In the Colony Studio Theatre's winning production of Thornton Wilder's comedy "The Matchmaker"--the inspiration for the musical "Hello, Dolly!"--Jodi Carlisle doesn't need to sing. Her mellifluous speaking voice and scheming facial contortions are more than enough.
With her Gibson Girl appearance and her split-second timing, Carlisle as Dolly Gallagher Levi sparkles, charms and manipulates--even while eating mashed potatoes with a grace that slides between well-mannered pretentiousness and slightly grubby working-class instincts.
In this merry comedy of innocent romance, Dolly will manage to find suitable spouses for all, swishing her skirts and tiny deceptions around the confounded Horace Vandergelder (Al D'Andrea) until he must certainly surrender. Rich but stingy widower Horace hopes to prevent his niece, Ermengarde (Jodi Rosenbaum), from marrying artist Ambrose (Gil Bernardy) and his faithful clerks--Cornelius (Lee Grober) and Barnaby (Darin Anthony)--from having fun. But as the action moves from Yonkers to New York, Cornelius and Barnaby find adventure and romance with Horace's intended, Mrs. Molloy (Linden Waddell) and Minnie (Caren Saiet), respectively.
Director Todd Nielsen is almost unerring in his good-natured, physical comedic approach. The couples are well-matched, although Rosenbaum and Bernardy are rather weakly realized in comparison to the other two. Grober is especially ingratiating as a man not satisfied with being promoted "from head clerk to head clerk," preferring an adventure.
Sharon McGunigle's costume designs are brightly fanciful. John Patrick's scenic design, which uses a gazebo-like structure throughout, is cleverly realized.
"The Matchmaker," Colony Studio Theatre, 1944 Riverside Drive, Silver Lake. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Ends Nov. 9. $23-$25. (213) 665-3011. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.