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Bette Midler Stars in "Hello Dolly!" at the Sam S. Shubert Theatre
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Bette Midler Stars in "Hello Dolly!" at the Sam S. Shubert Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights
On Restaurant Row
338 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036

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Scott Rudin, Roy Furman, James L. Nederlander, Eli Bush
et al. and
Executive Producers:
Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson

Bette Midler
Hello Dolly!
(Hello Dolly! Website)

Based on the play, “The Matchmaker” by Thornton Wilder

Book by Michael Stewart
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman

Also Starring:
David Hyde Pearce

Featuring: Gavin Creel, Kate Baldwin
Taylor Trensch, Beanie Feldstein, Will Burton
Melanie Moore, Jennifer Simard, Kevin Ligon

and an expansive ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

Directed by Jerry Zaks
Choreographed by Warren Carlyle
Original Production Choreographed by Gower Champion

At the
Sam S. Shubert Theatre
A Shubert Organization Theatre
225 West 44th Street

Scenic and Costume Design: Santo Loquasto
Lighting Design: Natasha Katz
Sound Design: Scott Lehrer
Music Supervision and Direction: Andy Einhorn
Orchestrations: Larry Hochman
Vocal Arrangements: Don Pippin
Dance Arrangements: David Chase
Hair, Wigs, & Make Up Design: Campbell Young Associates
Casting: Telsey + Company
Production Stage Manager: William Joseph Barnes
Press: DKC/O&M
Production Manager: Aurora Productions
Company Manager: Megan Curren
Music Coordinator: John Miller

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 26, 2017

I almost thought I was at a grand ballet gala, with the level of audience accolades and standing ovations for Bette Midler in her entrances, exits, and in between numbers, as Dolly Gallagher Levi, a 19th century New York matchmaker, who wants a match for herself, too. In Santo Loquasto’s magnificent sets and costumes, including that fantastic, off-shoulder, satin and lace dress in red, with giant plumes for her head, Ms. Midler is a showstopper. Campbell Young Associates’ hair, wig, makeup design adds luster and luxury to each and every scene, that’s literally chewed to pieces by Ms. Midler. In fact, in the Act II Harmonia Gardens Restaurant scene, the orchestra falls silent, while everyone, cast, conductor, and audience, watch Ms. Midler slowly and divinely devour dinner, drinks, and dessert, real food in real time, before she struts and sings and savors the limelight all over again. Jerry Zaks has directed this revival of the 1964 show, book by Michael Stewart and music/lyrics by Jerry Herman, to maximize nuanced gestures, magnetic dialogues and monologues, and some sizzling onstage chemistry as well.

Dolly isn’t just a matchmaker, she has a business card that lists any job your imagination can invent, and, if your needed task isn’t listed, she’ll do it anyway. The scenes unfold between Fourth Avenue, New York City, Grand Central Station (a real train crosses the stage), Yonkers, 14th Street, the Battery, Centre Street (yes, the courthouse), and the Hudson River Valley. Dolly’s client, Horace Vandergelder, who owns a hay and feed store, is none other than David Hyde Pierce. Although his New York accent wavered between numerous variations in linguistics, and his wig, sideburns, and tight jackets left something to be desired, Mr. Pierce seemed to thoroughly enjoy his relationship morphing, shifting his eye from the lovely milliner, Irene Molloy (Kate Baldwin), to Dolly, older, wiser, and wise-cracking. To offer some red meat to Irene to shift her own gaze, Dolly manipulates Horace’s chief clerk, Cornelius Hackl (Gavin Creel), to pursue the lovely entrepreneur. Adding to the mix and match, Irene’s entertaining assistant, Minnie Fay (Beanie Feldstein in a breakthrough role), falls for Horace’s sidekick in the store, Barnaby Tucker (Taylor Trensch). A Harmonia Gardens blind date from hell for Cornelius and Ernestina (Jennifer Simard) adds to the merriment, as the unlucky gal was a pawn for Dolly’s plan.

Warren Carlyle’s choreography, after Gower Champion’s original design, is luscious and ebullient, especially in “The Waiters’ Gallop”, led by Harmonia Gardens host, Rudolph (Kevin Ligon). Of course, the title song, sung by restaurant staff and guests, with Ms. Midler slinking down the stairway, brought down the house. Ms. Midler’s vocals are strong, not necessarily perfectly tuned, but oh so necessarily charismatic, as is her persona, always. Her Act I closing number, “Before the Parade Passes By”, was so poignant and heartfelt that the audience swooned and stood for one of many ovations. Before the second round of “Hello Dolly!”, this time with her catch of a husband, Vandergelder, close to the finale, Dolly sang a solo to her deceased husband, “So Long Dearie”, for permission to move on with her new man. Again, perfection in the limelight. Ms. Baldwin sings like a canary, lush vocals with impassioned styling, and her “Ribbons Down My Back”, in the Act I hat shop scene, was stunning. Mr. Hyde Pierce’s solo, “Penny in My Pocket”, outlined his character’s personality with finesse. Another grand number, “It Only Takes a Moment”, was vibrantly led by Mr. Creel, Ms. Baldwin, and cast. Andy Einhorn, Music Director, conducts the orchestra with first class pizzazz. This revival of Hello Dolly! is already among Broadway’s greatest all-time shows.

Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce
in "Hello Dolly!"
Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

Beanie Feldstein, Taylor Trensch, Kate Baldwin, Gavin Creel
in "Hello Dolly!"
Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

Bette Midler and the Male Ensemble
in "Hello Dolly!"
Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at