BootLeg Betty

The Original Dolly Levi, Carol Channing, On Bette Midler Taking On Hello Dolly!

Broadway World
BWW Exclusive: Dolly on Dolly- Carol Channing Chimes in on Bette Midler’s Casting News!
January 19, 2016

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There’s a new Dolly coming to town, but how does the original star feel about it? BroadwayWorld has just checked in with Carol Channing, who is thrilled about this morning’s news. Channing, who turns 95 later this month said, “Bette will be brilliant! Dolly is the kind of character that everyone should be blessed to play. Dolly is an institution- the American musical equivalent to Hamlet.”

In 1964 Channing originated the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly!, winning the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in a season that also included Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl and Bea Lillie for High Spirits. Channing also appeared in two New York revivals of Hello, Dolly!, and toured with it extensively throughout the United States.

As BroadwayWorld reported this morning, Bette Midler will indeed return to Broadway in one of the most cherished shows in musical theater history when she takes on the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi in Michael Stewart’s (book) and Jerry Herman’s (music and lyrics) masterpiece, Hello, Dolly!. Directed by four-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly! will begin performances on Broadway on March 13, 2017, with an official opening night of April 20, 2017. Rehearsals begin one year from today.

This new production of Hello, Dolly!, the first new production of this classic musical to appear on Broadway since it opened more than fifty years ago, will have at its helm Jerry Zaks as its director, and will feature choreography by Tony Award-winner Warren Carlyle. The new Dolly! will pay tribute to the original work of legendary director/choreographer Gower Champion, which has been hailed both then and now as one of the greatest stagings in musical theater history

Based on Thornton Wilder’s farce The Matchmaker, Hello, Dolly! caused an instant sensation when it premiered on Broadway in 1964, starring Carol Channing in the title role. It went on to win a record-shattering ten Tony Awards, including those for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Producer of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Scenic Design, and Best Costume Design. It was also named Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle. Its original Broadway cast recording hit the top of the Billboard album chart, and years later was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It also marked the greatest producing triumph of legendary impresario David Merrick, running for 2,844 performances over seven years and breaking the record for the longest running show in Broadway history. In addition to Ms. Channing, an astonishing list of Broadway and Hollywood luminaries have inhabited the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi, including Pearl Bailey, Phyllis Diller, Betty Grable, Martha Raye, Ginger Rogers, Ethel Merman (in her last appearance on Broadway), and Mary Martin, who led the West End company.

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