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HELLO, BROADWAY FANS!!!! Can you believe it’s just 44 DAYS AWAY left till we celebrate the return of Live Theater on the Great Bright Way with The 74th Annual Tony Awards? We at New York Broadway Tours are waking you up each morning with many of our favorite performances from previous telecasts on our TOP 50 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN. This is getting even all of us hype on returning to the Theater. Without further ado, bring on more Broadway showstoppers!!
At # 44 on our countdown, we put on our….. NOT OUR SUNDAY CLOTHES…. OUR FESTIVE CLOTHES as everyone’s favorite street smart matchmaker is in town. We are talking about “Dolly Gallagher Levi”. Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time to say…… Hello, Dolly. Based on Thorton Wilder’s play THE MATCHMAKER and John Oxenford’s play A DAY WELL SPENT, the show features a score by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart.
From the 2017 telecast, we get to meet one of Dolly’s clients and eventual love interest sharing what he’s all about. Tony Award winner David Hyde Pierce as the gruff and authoritative millionaire widower himself “Horace Vandergelder” from the recent Tony winning revival performs the Act’s 2 opener PENNY IN MY POCKET (a song that was performed in the show’s world premiere tryout, cut from its original production, but put back for the recent revival).
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 show’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!
HELLO, DOLLY officially arrived on Broadway in 1964 at the St. James Theatre. It ran for a total of 2,844 performances. Under the direction and choreography by Gower Champion, the cast was led by….
the legendary Carol Channing (later Ginger Rogers, Martha Raye, Bibi Osterwald, Pearl Bailey, Betty Grable, Phyllis Diller, Thelma Carpenter, and Ethel Merman) in the title role,
David Burns (later Max Showalter, Cab Calloway, Richard Deacon, and Jack Goode) as “Horace Vandergelder”,
Charles Nelson Reilly (later Russel Nype, Will Mackenzie, Jack Crowder, and Bill Mullikin) as “Cornelus Hackel”,
Jerry Dodge (later Harvey Evans, Winston DeWitt Hemsley, John Mineo, and Danny Lockin) as “Barnaby Tucker”,
Eileen Brennan (later Emily Yancy, June Helmers, and Erstentine Jackson) as “Irene Molloy”,
Sondra Lee (later Leland Palmer, Chris Calloway, Georgia Engel, and Sherri Peaches Brewer) as “Minnie Fay”,
Igors Gavon (later Roger Lawson, Ronald Young, Howard Porter, and David Evans) as “Ambrose Kemper”,
Alice Playten (later Sherri Peaches Prewer, Marion Ramsey, Edloe R. Brown, and Andrea Bell) as “Ermengarde”,
Mary Jo Catlett (later Alyce Webb, Marcia Lewis, and Mabel King) as “Ernestina Money”.
The original production was nominated for 14 Tony Awards winning the most (at the time) 10 including BEST MUSICAL, a record held for 37 years until The Producers.
Following its original run, HELLO, DOLLY would go on to become a worldwide hit in London’s West End, Australia, and around the world. The show would later be revived on Broadway 4 times,
The first revival happened in 1975 playing Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre for only 47 performances. It was known for featuring a full cast of Actors of Color in these iconic roles. Under the direction of Lucia Victor, this production starred….
Pearl Bailey (who previously appeared in the original production as a later replacement) in the title role
Billy Daniels as “Horace Vandergelder”,
Terrence Emmanuel as “Cornelus Hackel”,
Grenaldo Fraizer as “Barnaby Tucker”,
Mary Louise as “Irene Molloy”,
Chip Fields as “Minnie Fay”,
Howard Porter as “Ambrose Kemper”,
Karen Hubbard as “Ermengarde”,
Bessye Ruth Scott as “Ernestina Money”.
That first revival did not receive any Tony nominations or wins that year.
The 2nd revival in 1978 brought back Gower Champion and members of the original creative team for 5 previews and 147 performances at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. This remounted revival starred….
Carol Channing reprising her legendary performance as the title role,
Eddie Bracken as “Horace Vandergelder”,
Lee Roy Reams as “Cornelus Hackel”,
Robert Lyliard as “Barnaby Tucker”,
Florence Lacey as “Irene Molloy”,
Alexandra Korey as “Minnie Fay”,
Michael C. Booker as “Ambrose Kemper”,
K.T. Baumann as “Ermengarde”,
P.J Nelson as “Ernestina Money”.
It received only 1 Tony nominee that year for BEST LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL (for Eddie Bricken) who lost the category.
The 3rd revival happened in 1995, It returned to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre with an updated version of the remounting of the original staging directed by Lee Roy Reams (after having played “Cornelus Hackel” in 1978). It ran for 116 performances. This cast was led by….
Carol Channing reprising her signature role as “Dolly Gallagher-Levi” one last time,
Jay Garner as “Horace Vandergelder”,
Michael DeVries as “Cornelus Hackel”,
Cory English as “Barnaby Tucker”,
Florence Lacey reprising her 1978 performance as “Irene Molloy”,
Lori Ann Mahl as “Minnie Fay”,
James Darrah as “Ambrose Kemper”,
Christina DeVito as “Ermengarde”,
Monica M. Wemitt as “Ernestina Money”.
This 1995 revival was nominated for only 1 Tony for BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL but lost the category.
The most recent revival of HELLO, DOLLY played Broadway’s Shubert Theatre in 2017 playing a complete total of 34 previews and 550 regular performances. Under the direction of Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, this legendary production starred….
Bette Midler (later Donna Murphy and Bernadette Peters) in the title role,
David Hyde Pierce (later Victor Garber) as “Horace Vandergelder”,
Gavin Creel (later Santino Fontana) as “Cornelus Hackel”,
Taylor Trensch (later Charlie Stemp) as “Barnaby Tucker”,
Kate Baldwin as “Irene Molloy”,
Beanie Feldstein (later Molly Griggs) as “Minnie Fay”,
Will Burton as “Ambrose Kemper”,
Melanie Moore as “Ermengarde”,
Jennifer Simard (later Alli Mauzey) as “Ernestina Money”.
The recent revival was nominated for 10 Tony Awards winning 4 including BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL and BEST LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL (for Bette Midler – which included a history making 5 minute Thank You Speech even with the Orchestra playing the exit music).
At the time of the COVID-19 pandemic recently, that recent 2017 revival was playing to packed houses on a critically acclaimed National Tour (led by Betty Buckley and later Carolee Carmello). However at the time of the shutdown, the tour closed 1 week early than expected.
Along with its success on stage, HELLO DOLLY was also a smash hit on the big screen. The film version was released in 1969 from 20th Century Fox. Under the direction of Gene Kelly, the film was led by….
the legendary Barbra Streisand (being the youngest actress ever) to play the titular role of “Dolly Gallagher-Levi”,
Walter Matthau as “Horace Vandergelder”,
Michael Crawford as “Cornelus Hackel”,
Danny Lockin as “Barnaby Tucker”,
Marianne McAndrew as “Irene Molloy”,
E.J Peaker as “Minnie Fay”,
Tommy Tune as “Ambrose Kemper”,
Joyce Ames as “Ermengarde”,
Judy Knaiz as “Ernestina Money” (last name renamed “Semple”).
The original film was nominated that same year for 7 Academy Awards that year taking home 4 including BEST SCORE.
Today, Hello Dolly is a popular show that continues to play in schools, community, and regional theatre productions everywhere.
Doesn’t this musical make you want to FEEL YOUR HEART COME ALIVE AGAIN?!!
Mike Haber
Author: Mike Haber

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