Back in 1993 Eyemouth Variety Group made tentative steps into the realms of musical theatre with ‘Hello Dolly’ and oh how the group and the show have aged well.
The all singing, all dancing story of socialite and romantic meddler Dolly Levi was a hit in the town two decades ago and proved to be a massive crowd pleaser once again last week.
ITV2 might have its ‘Millionaire Matchmaker’ but as Dolly, Maureen Gillie could definitely show her a thing or two.
Repeating the very role that made her a leading lady 21 years ago, Maureen was an absolute joy to watch and listen to.
While I’m sure she was terrific first time round, Maureen’s wealth of experience since then in shows such as ‘Beauty & the Beast’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ helped to make her second foray into Dolly-ville even more of a theatrical tour de force.
The tone and warmth to Maureen’s voice perfectly suited the old-time musical feel of the ‘Hello Dolly’ score.
Maureen has a knack for a strong female role and unquestionable talent which came right to the fore in the likes of ‘I Put My Hand In’ and ‘Motherhood March’.
Maureen was the matriarch of a cast of all ages but one thing they had in common was dedication to making the show the success it was.
Youngsters Brooke Heary and Rory Fairbairn have established themselves as real ones to watch within the Eyemouth Variety fold and once again turned in thoroughly professional performances.
Fellow youngster Jack Ritchie, a real favourite in ‘Dick Whittington’ at Christmas, was one half of a great comedic double act alongside 1993 veteran Campbell McNeil.
Playing Cornelius this time round, Campbell had the American accent licked and a great singing voice to boot, shown off to great effect in ‘Put On Your Sunday Clothes’ and ‘It Takes A Moment’,
‘Hello Dolly’ is blessed with some terrific roles for both sexes and doing it for the girls were Geraldine Skelly and Karen Short as Irene and Minnie Fay.
The two collaborated in fine fashion in ‘The Sound of Musicals’ last June and have a great rapport which was there for all to see in ‘Motherhood March’, with Geraldine also lending her impressive vocals to ‘Ribbons Down My Back’.
Moving onto the men, the would-be alpha male was Billy Shardlow’s Horace Vandergelder.
A great match for Maureen’s Dolly, Billy was a commanding presence on stage and led numbers such as ‘It Takes A Woman’ with real aplomb.
‘Hello Dolly’s’ supporting cast had just as an important part to play with the likes of Jonathon Combe, Janice Walker and Kenny Combe stepping up to the plate.
And it would be absolutely criminal to ignore the cracking choreography Nancy Steele challenged the show’s dance troupe with.
The eye-catching moves provided the perfect springboard for Allison Flockhart, Chloe French, Kirsten Hood, Hannah Ritchie, Ellie Smith and Jonny Warner as they lit up the stage.
Musical director Peter Keenan also deserves great praise for getting the best out of both the cast and his musicians, with assistance from vocal coach Gilly Peakman who made sure everyone was pitch perfect. And last but by no means least producer Pauline Greive, the musical marvel herself, for delivering another top notch show.