Well, whaddya know. Just a few days ago, I suggested an NBC Live “Mame” starring Bette Midler because I figured she wouldn’t go for a full eight-night-a-week Broadway run. And now she’s just announced that she’ll be doing that other Jerry Herman hit “Hello, Dolly!” on Broadway next year. I’m perfectly happy to be wrong in this case. What a perfect fit! They haven’t announced other casting, but does it matter?
Hopefully they’ll do two things. One, the choreography needs some major updating from the last Broadway revival, which starred the one-and-only Carol Channing in what was presumably a copy of the original production. That was cute enough, and I’m glad to have seen it. But with the level of dancers around these days, maybe they can be a little less aesthetic and a bit more athletic, as Dolly might put it. I have a feeling that this wish is going to come true. Two, they really need to do something about the switch of the wallets in the restaurant that drives the rest of the plot. As presented in that earlier production, the two men hand their wallets to the waiters, who accidentally switch them — a coincidence that is not only a bit too convenient but has nothing to do with Dolly’s wily attempt to lure the rich businessman. Hopefully they can get her involved in that somehow and make it part of her scheme.
In any case, great news all around. Bette and “Dolly!” are a match made in heaven, and it’s already on my to-do list for spring 2017. I never thought we’d see “Dolly!” back on Broadway until Carol Channing was no longer, well, available, let’s say, but then I thought the same about “Funny Girl”. If they do as well with this show as the present London version of that latter one, it’s “hello, dollars!”, for sure.
P.S. If Sheridan Smith makes it to Broadway next season for her spectacular performance in “Funny Girl”, as she should, it could pit her against Bette in the Tony Awards. So we could see Dolly and Fanny fighting it out over the Tony again as when the shows first opened (Dolly won that round). Very cool.