Bernadette Peters, the much-loved and much-honored star of Broadway musical theater, will succeed Bette Midler in the title role of “Hello, Dolly!,” the show’s lead producer, Scott Rudin, said Tuesday.
Victor Garber will join Ms. Peters, playing the man she fancies, Horace Vandergelder. That role is currently played by David Hyde Pierce.
Both performers will join the production on Jan. 20. Ms. Midler and Mr. Hyde Pierce will play their final performances Jan. 14, after which the show will be dark for a few days.
Recasting the role of Dolly was a high-stakes affair for the producers, and luring Ms. Peters appears to be a coup. She is a two-time Tony winner, for “Song and Dance” in 1986 and for “Annie Get Your Gun” in 1999, and a key interpreter of musicals by Stephen Sondheim. In 2010 Ms. Peters also replaced Catherine Zeta-Jones in the Broadway revival of “A Little Night Music.”
Mr. Garber is a four-time Tony nominee who has also worked regularly in film and television.
The giddy “Hello, Dolly!” revival, which has been running since March, has been enormously successful, grossing over $2 million in most recent weeks. The show, directed by Jerry Zaks, was cheered by nearly every major criticand won four Tony Awards in June, including for best musical revival, and for Ms. Midler’s performance.
The show, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, first ran on Broadway in 1964, with Carol Channing in the title role, and returned several times since; a film adaptation starred Barbra Streisand. Dolly (full name: Dolly Gallagher Levi) is a meddlesome matchmaker who falls for Mr. Vandergelder, a successful Yonkers feed store owner.
Ms. Midler, a gifted comedian, has been wildly popular in the role — audiences have been ecstatically enthusiastic, showering her with affection that she appears to reciprocate. The question of how Mr. Rudin would replace her has been a long-running Broadway parlor game, with speculation about any number of actresses, and even the occasional actor, until Mr. Garber’s husband seemed to spill the beans with a quickly-deleted Instagram comment over the weekend.