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“Hello, Dolly!” Star Jacquelyn Piro Donovan Is a Real Showstopper

Jacquelyn Piro Donovan gives a stellar performance in the title role of "Hello, Dolly!"

Jacquelyn Piro Donovan gives a stellar performance in the title role of "Hello, Dolly!"

The North Carolina Theatre‘s jaunty presentation of Hello, Dolly! started out as a star package with three-time Golden Globe winner Cybill Shepherd (“Moonlighting,” “Cybill”) providing most of the candle power. But after Shepherd suffered an offstage leg injury Levi in the middle of rehearsals, Broadway veteran Jacquelyn Piro Donovan stepped into the role of merry matchmaker Dolly Gallagher — and squeezes every drop of juice out of this plum part.

Jackie Donovan was born to play Dolly Levi, and her effervescent performance is a real showstopper. Stephen Godwin adds a personable portrayal of the well-known half-a-millionaire Horace Vandergelder. Indeed, Godwin’s prickly portrait of the tight-fisted hay-and-feed store merchant from Yonkers, NY, provides a perfect foil for Dolly’s extravagances — and it quickly becomes apparent that — as surely as opposites attract — the tightwad and the spendthrift are destined to march down to the aisle together.

"Hello, Dolly!" stars Broadway veteran Jacquelyn Piro Donovan (center) as Dolly Levi (photo by Curtis S. Brown)

Broadway veteran Jacquelyn Piro Donovan (center) stars as Dolly Levi (photo by Curtis S. Brown)

Matt Loehr and Jeremy Morse provide comic relief as Vandergelder’s ambitious but underpaid head clerk Cornelius Hackl and Cornelius’ assistant Barnaby Tucker — two wage slaves who ultimately rebel, go AWOL, and take the train into the Big Apple in search of adventure — and women. Gail Bennett and Halle Morse as widowed milliner Irene Molloy and her ultra-excitable assistant Minnie Fay quickly become the objects of Cornelius and Barnaby’s affections, and Bailey Buntain and Jason Sparks add a couple of cute cameos as Vandergelder’s weeping niece Ermengarde and struggling artist Ambrose Kemper, the impecunious beau whom her Uncle Horace forbids her to see.

The North Carolina Theatre‘s invigorating revival of the 1964 Broadway musical also features striking antique picture-postcard sets from the 5th Avenue Theatre of Seattle, WA, recreating various locales in fin de siècle New York City and Yonkers, NY, and eye-catching turn-of-the-century costumes from Costume World of Deerfield Beach, FL and NCT costumer Ann M. Bruskiewitz. Magnificent musical staging by director Casey Hushion and choreographer Vince Pesce, plus spirited accompaniment by musical director Edward G. Robinson and NCT’s exuberant 22-piece orchestra, make Hello, Dolly! a treat for the ear as well as the eye. Don’t miss it!

SECOND OPINION: May 10th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: and May 3rd and two May 5th previews, all three by David Menconi:,, and; May 2nd Durham, NC Independent Weekly preview by Zach Smith:; and May 2nd New York City preview by Andrew Gans: (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the May 7th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click

The North Carolina Theatre presents HELLO, DOLLY, starring Jacquelyn Piro Donovan as Dolly Levi, at 8 p.m. May 10-13 and 2 and 8 p.m. May 14 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $25-$75.


NCT Box Office: 919/831-6941, ext. 6944;; or

Ticketmaster: 800/745-3000 or

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919/831-6941, ext. 6944;; or








NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh ( will audio describe the 2 p.m. May 14th performance, which will also be sign-language interpreted.


The Musical: (Tams-Witmark Music Library, Inc.),,_Dolly!_(musical) (Wikipedia), and (Internet Broadway Database).

The Film:,_Dolly!_(film) (Wikipedia) and (Internet Movie Database).

Jerry Herman: (official website) and (Wikipedia).

Michael Stewart: (Wikipedia).

Thornton Wilder: (Thornton Wilder Estate), (Thornton Wilder Society), and (Wikipedia).

Jacquelyn Piro Donovan: (Wikipedia) and (Internet Broadway Database).

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews

1 Response

  1. Hello Dolly was fantastic. The fact that the lead was able to do the show without the advantage of months of rehearsals goes straight to the kind of talent NCT brings to Raleigh. The fact that they cast locals actors shows a real committment to growing talent in our community, also. The ensemble and dance numbers were brilliant. The tunes just kept playing in my head all weekend. Congrats again to such a talented lead, cast and crew! I will be first in line for EVITA and other upcoming shows!!!