Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly!. Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Bette Midler makes her official return to Broadway tonight in one of the most cherished musicals in theater history when she takes on the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi in Michael Stewart’s and Jerry Herman’s masterpiece, Hello, Dolly!. Directed by four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly! plays the Shubert Theatre (225 West 44th Street) on Broadway, after beginning previews on March 15, 2017.
“I am looking forward to portraying one of the most beloved characters in all of American Musical Comedy, Dolly Levi, born Gallagher, in Hello, Dolly!” said Ms. Midler. “I know I’m going to have the time of my life, and I am so glad to be under the wings of Scott Rudin as Producer and Jerry Zaks as Director.”
The cast includes Tony winner David Hyde Pierce (Horace Vandergelder), who is joined by two-time Tony Award nominee Gavin Creel (Cornelius Hackl), Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin (Irene Molloy), Taylor Trensch (Barnaby Tucker), Will Burton (Ambrose Kemper), Melanie Moore (Ermengarde), Tony Award nominee Jennifer Simard (Ernestina), and an ensemble of twenty-seven.
“Many times through the years I’ve been asked about bringing back Hello, Dolly! – and it has always been, ‘Who would be my dream Dolly?’ – and though I’ve had literally dozens of names tossed at me, I knew that we needed more than just a wonderful singer or a wonderful actor, so I held on to the hope that she would also be a distinctly original persona,” said Mr. Herman. “Who is out there that has the necessary stature, warmth, the incredible talent and ability, and especially the singular, outsized personality that I was looking for in a 21st Century Dolly? Only one person: Bette Midler. Only Bette could bring Dolly brilliantly back to ‘the lights of 14th Street!’”
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 Zaks as its director, and will feature choreography by Tony Award-winner Warren Carlyle. The new Hello, 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.
“Shortly after I decided to give up my life as a pre-med student to try making a go for it in the world of the theater, I paid my hard-earned money to stand at the back of the St. James Theatre and watch the only show anyone was talking about: Hello, Dolly!,” Mr. Zaks explained. “I fell in love with everything about it: the music, the dancing, the comedy, the style – the sheer power of it. I went back four more times. Ever since then I’ve regarded Gower Champion as the quintessential master of the seamless blending of music, movement, and dialogue. He was as good a storyteller as there has ever been on the Broadway stage. To be able to bring the work of Gower, Jerry Herman, and Michael Stewart to life again, with the great genius that is Bette Midler, is as good as it gets for me.”
“I’m so inspired by the Golden Age of American musical theater. It couldn’t possibly get any better than Hello, Dolly!,” Mr. Carlyle enthused. “I am honored and humbled to pay homage to the groundbreaking, innovative vision of Gower Champion. To have the opportunity to work with the legendary talent Bette Midler, as she takes her rightful place alongside the jaw-dropping list of women who have played this role, is nothing short of awe-inspiring.”
Beginning Tuesday, June 13, two-time Tony Award-winner and one of Broadway’s most treasured stars, Donna Murphy, will step into the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi for Tuesday evening performances.
The creative team features three-time Tony Award winner Santo Loquasto (Scenic & Costume Design), five-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Lighting Design), Tony Award winner Scott Lehrer (Sound Design), Andy Einhorn (Music Direction), Tony Award winner Larry Hochman (Orchestrations), Tony Award winner Don Pippin (Vocal Arrangements), Glen Kelly (Dance Arrangements), and Telsey + Company (Casting).
The ensemble features Cameron Adams, Phillip Attmore, Giuseppe Bausilio, Justin Bowen, Elizabeth Earley, Taeler Elyse Cyrus, Leslie Donna Flesner, Jenifer Foote, Jessica Lee Goldyn, Blake Hammond, Stephen Hanna, Michael Hartung, Robert Hartwell, Amanda LaMotte, Analisa Leaming, Jess LeProtto, Ian Liberto, Kevin Ligon, Nathan Madden, Linda Mugleston, Hayley Podschun, Jessica Sheridan, Michaeljon Slinger, Christian Dante White, Branch Woodman, Ryan Worsing, and Richard Riaz Yoder.
In a legendary career spanning five unbroken decades of matchless cultural relevance, Ms. 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.
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.