New “Dolly” souvenir program has built-in elegance
By Todd Sussman
Like the show it celebrates – and documents – the brand new Hello, Dolly! souvenir program is a lavish affair. The high-gloss candy apple red cover framing Better Midler in a die-cut heart is only the beginning. Julieta Cervantes’ sparkling and dynamic production photos deliver the goods…90 whopping pages worth! If you already saw the show, the lush photographs bring you right back to the Shubert Theatre. If you haven’t seen it yet, beware. The shots are very dynamic and presented in an oversize format, giving us a you-are-there feel. Consider this your spoiler alert.
Every musical number gets its own spread. Every craft department – costume design, sets, lighting, choreography, orchestrations – gets its own section. And Director Jerry Zaks offers a running commentary, printed in gold lettering. In the beginning, he cites the love affair between Bette and the audience. The program, closer to the end, offers a two-page spread of Bette drinking in their love (and their standing ovation) – during a curtain call.
From front cover to back, this is one spectacular keepsake. The show-stopping moments are all there, including Bette descending the staircase for the title song, and a series of snapshots to capture her funniest scene…munching on the turkey leg and savoring each bite.
There is even a section of photographs devoted to Bette’s career highlights in movies and concerts. Such is rarely included in a Broadway program, but then again, it is very rare to have a star of Bette’s stature take on an iconic musical role in a revival.
Her co-stars get their due as well. David Hyde Pierce, Gavin Creel and Kate Baldwin are prominently featured in the book. To their credit, they brought something special to their well-known characters and held their own in scenes with the star. They look wonderful in these shots.
Another spread shows the history of the famous Dollies who graced the stage prior to Bette, starting with the inimitable Carol Channing. However, the one and only musical Dolly on film – Miss Barbra Streisand – is curiously absent.
At 45 bucks a pop, you will need much more than a “penny in your pocket” to take this home, but you may regret it later if you don’t. At present, the only place to purchase the program is in the Shubert lobby. If the price seems steep, consider that you are getting much more than most Broadway programs provide. For comparison sake, the Dear Evan Hansen one sells for $20, but it is only 24 pages…Hello, Dolly’s has nearly four times as many pages. I am also guessing die-cut hearts and heavy stock, high-gloss covers add to the cost. And then you have the Bette Midler factor. She is after all…Bette Midler!
Special thank you to my friend, Kevin. When I saw the show in previews, the program was not yet available. But he kindly sent it to me, priority mail. I am grateful to say the least!