TWITTER WATCH: Bette Midler Says ‘Hello, Carol!’ to Original HELLO, DOLLY! Star Carol Channing
by Michael Dale
May 31, 2016
Broadway’s newest Dolly Gallagher Levi met the classic original last week, as the fabulous Bette Midler was introduced to the legendary Carol Channing.
Channing, who is now 95, took Broadway by storm and got a Tony Award, too, when she opened in the original 1964 production of Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s HELLO, DOLLY!, a musical version of Thornton Wilder‘s THE MATCHMAKER.
Bette Midler stars in the upcoming Broadway revival, which begins previewing March 15, 2017, with an official opening night of April 20, 2017. Four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks directs and Tony Award winner David Hyde Pierce joins Midler as leading man Horace Vandergelder.
In a legendary career spanning five unbroken decades of matchless cultural relevance, Bette Midler is a performer who thrillingly continues to defy categorization. She is a recording artist who has sold more than 35 million albums and won four Grammy Awards. She is a stage performer who has, year after year and in show after show, sold out the largest venues around the globe across more than a dozen tours. She is a Tony Award, three-time Emmy, three-time Golden Globe-winning and twice Academy Award-nominated actress who made her Broadway debut in the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof in 1967, and went on to star in dozens of blockbuster films, creating some of the most iconic screen performances in cinematic history. Throughout the 1970’s, she brought to Broadway three well-loved concert events: Bette Midler (in 1973, and for which she received a special Tony Award), Bette Midler’s Clams on the Half Shell Revue (in 1975), and Bette! Divine Madness (in 1979). In 2013, Midler returned to the Broadway stage, after a nearly 40-year absence, to star in the one-woman play I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers in which she played the legendary Hollywood agent, wowing critics and selling out performance after performance in a run that broke the house record at the Booth Theatre. In addition to being one of the best-loved, most versatile, and instantly recognizable entertainers in the world, Midler is also a great and abiding New Yorker and one of its most generous and tireless citizens. In 1994, she started the New York Restoration Project, a non-profit organization devoted to bringing abandoned and neglected parks, gardens and open spaces in all five boroughs back to abundant life.
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.