Hello, Chicago! Hello, Dolly!
“Money is like manure.
It's not worth anything until you spread it around to help young things grow.”
From the beginning, when we first learned we would be coming out to Shriner's Hospital in Chicago for our daughter's medical care, we began to dream about going to see live theater in this amazing city. I had visions of walking downtown and seeing the theater name in lights and watching grand shows such as “Hello, Dolly!” The closest we got was looking up showtimes on the internet. After pricing them, we settled for a couple of homemade brownies and a dvd borrowed from the front office.
We're at Ronald McDonald House again. It feels like home. We once were able to stay at someone's time share at a resort hotel. I've got to tell you, Ronald McDonald House has spoiled us. The 5 star resort hotel was nothing in comparison. Is there any other place where you can come downstairs to the kitchen at 10:00 pm in your pj's and have a late snack? Or find beautiful little rooms hidden away, filled with books and cozy armchairs? This house has a hidden staircase leading to a turret playroom. I am certain no hotel could be even remotely as comfortable as Ronnie's house. We've been here a lot.
Last night, our house manager, David, asked if there was something we'd like to do before we leave. The theater shows came to my mind immediately and I looked up showtimes. Amazingly, “Hello, Dolly!” was being performed at the Drury Lane Theatre, not too far away. I thought it was a long shot. We would surely be told it was too expensive, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I wrote down the information and left it for David in the office.
The next morning, Lisa Mitchell, our house director, came and told us we could pick up tickets at the box office for the 1:30 show. WOW! It was like magic. She explained to us they had been given a grant from the Barnett Family Foundation just for the purpose of allowing families to have things to do while they are away from home. What an amazing gift.
It was an amazing afternoon! Lit by huge chandeliers, the Drury Lane Theatre is elegant and beautiful. Though most people know the characters and story of “Hello, Dolly!” from the movie with Barbara Streisand, we know them from Thornton Wilder's play, “The Matchmaker”, which was performed by the Denver Waldorf High School seniors last spring. I would say the actors in this production measured up quite well.
Karen Ziemba was strong and confident as Dolly Levi and David Lively brought to life the tough-as-nails Horace Vandergelder. My favorite characters are Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker, played by Jeff Diebold and Lee Slobotkin. I didn't think anyone could play these roles better than Collin Montrose and Miles Justice. I wouldn't say Jeff and Lee were better, but they were as good. I especially loved the part when Barnaby starts to shake as he learns how to dance.
We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the musical version of this play. The singing and dancing added to the pure joy and fun to the story. It is a play with a big heart and the performance manifested this beautifully. It was an afternoon we'll always remember.
Thank you to the El Jebel Shriners in Denver who sponsored our daughter's medical care. Thank you to everyone at Shriner's Hospital in Chicago for all your wonderful work. Thank you to Ronald McDonald House for welcoming us, and thank you to the Barnett Family Foundation for the gift of music, dance, and fun as our daughter recovers from surgery once again. Everyone of you have made Ephraim Levi's words come to life: “Money is like manure. It's not worth anything until you spread it around to help young things grow.”
Because of you, a lot of young things are growing very well, indeed.