HELLO BROADWAY FANS!! It only 17 days till Broadway’s biggest night of the year, the 71st annual Tony Awards. We have more exciting showstoppers coming your only way on our TOP 30 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN.
At # 17, we pay a visit to meet everyone’s favorite matchmaker starting her life over. This is of course “Dolly Levi” of Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s legendary smash hit Hello, Dolly on Broadway. It’s based on Thorton Wilder’s play THE MATCHMAKER but also John Oxenford’s play A DAY WELL SPENT.
From the 1971 telecast (featuring legendary performers reprising their iconic roles from Broadway), Tony winning legend and the woman who started it all Carol Channing perform one of the musical’s most iconic songs BEFORE THE PARADE PASSES BY.
HELLO, DOLLY was first conceived in 1955 when Thorton Wilder’s play THE MERCHANT OF YONKERS renamed THE MATCHMAKER expanded the character of “Dolly Levi” who was originally featured. It caught the attention of Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart turning it into a musical originally entitling it DOLLY: A DAMNED ESPARATING WOMAN and later CALL ON DOLLY. The show was originally written for the late Ethel Merman and later Mary Martin. However, they both turned it down and eventually went on to play the role in later productions. The production’s Pre-Broadway run had a rocky start with the book originally being a complete mess. During the weeks before it’s Broadway opening, scenes were cut and new dialogue and songs were written including BEFORE THE PARADE PASSES BY. Plus it was also given a name change following the success of Louis Armstrong’s rendition of the what would become title song HELLO, DOLLY!
The show officially arrived on Broadway in 1964 at the St. James Theatre running for a total of 2,844 performances. The cast Carol Channing (later Ginger Rogers, Martha Raye, Ethel Merman, and more) in the title role. The original production was nominated for 14 Tony Awards winning 10 including Best Revival of a Musical, a record held for 37 years till The Producers.
HELLO, DOLLY would later be revived on Broadway 4 times, The first revival happened in 1975 running for only 47 performances at the Minskoff Theatre. This cast starred Pearl Bailey in the title role and a full all African American cast.
The 2nd revival happened in 1978 for only 147 performances getting only 1 Tony nominee that year for Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Musical (for Eddie Bricken) who lost the category.
The 3rd revival happened in 1995 for only 116 performances. It was nominated for only 1 Tony for Best Revival of a Musical but lost the category.
Both the 1978 and 1995 engagements played the Lunt Fontanne Theatre starring once again Carol Channing reprising her iconic role of “Dolly Levi”.
Currently this season, HELLO, DOLLY officially returned to Broadway at the Shubert Theatre. It stars the legendary and the Divine Bette Midler in the title role. The current revival is nominated for 10 Tony Awards this year including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Leading Actress in a Musical (for Bette Midler). In addition starting June 13th, 2017 (2 days after the Tonys), Tony winner Donna Murphy will join the cast as the “Dolly Levi alternate” playing Tuesday nights and days when Midler is on vacation.
HELLO DOLLY was also a smash hit on the big screen as well in 1969 starring the legendary Barbra Streisand in the title role. It was nominated for 7 Oscars that year winning 4 including Best Original Score.
Doesn’t this musical make you want to FEEL YOUR HEART COME ALIVE AGAIN?!!
Carol Channing performs “Before the Parade Passes By” on the 1971 Tonys.
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