A young and spirited company has just opened a lively production of "Hello Dolly" at Toby's, a new dinner theater located on the site of the old Garland's dinner theater in Columbia.
Headed by an experienced Jean Anne Kain in the title role, the production moves at a fast clip with plenty of razzle-dazzle dance numbers exuberantly presented.
The story of matchmaker Dolly Levi and the crusty "half-millionaire" Horace Vandergelder seldom fails to engage audiences. The week-night crowd at Toby's loved it, responding to the heartfelt sentiments and good-natured, if obvious, humor as if it were all new and fresh. The unflagging enthusiasm of the cast had much to do with this effect, of course.
Though Kain was neither a strong dancer nor singer, she had the warmth and polish needed to make Dolly sparkle. Bob Brenner found a gruff charm perfect for Vandergelder's clerk had the wide-eyed, eager manner down pat. Lynne Winterstellar's gracious manner and pleasing voice made her role as the young Irish widow a particular pleasure, and Mike Giacchino's graceful movements never failed to catch the eye, even when he was an artist who supposedly could not dance.
One significant complaint about the evening must be registered. Toby's needs, literally, to clean up its act before the show. After shuffling through a number of plates before getting a clean one, I found my appetite somewhat dimmed, even when confronted by such uncommon dinner theater fare as a huge mound of fresh shrimp.