Bette Midler Will Return to Broadway in “Hello, Dolly!”
Rick Miramontez / Andy Snyder / Matthew Troillett
FOR RELEASE ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2016
BETTE MIDLER. DOLLY LEVI.
BACK WHERE THEY BELONG.
B E T T E M I D L E R
RETURNS TO BROADWAY AS
DOLLY GALLAGHER LEVI
IN JERRY HERMAN’S & MICHAEL STEWART’S MASTERPIECE
“ H E L L O , D O L L Y ! ”
FOUR-TIME TONY AWARD®-WINNER JERRY ZAKS TO DIRECT
TONY AWARD®-WINNER WARREN CARLYLE TO CHOREOGRAPH
ORIGINAL PRODUCTION DIRECTED AND CHOREOGRAPHED BY GOWER CHAMPION
PERFORMANCES BEGIN MARCH 13, 2017 ON BROADWAY
OPENING NIGHT SET FOR APRIL 20, 2017
REHEARSALS BEGIN ONE YEAR FROM TODAY
New York, NY – Producer Scott Rudin announced today that Bette Midler will return to Broadway in one of the most cherished musicals in theater history when she takes on the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi in Michael Stewart’s (book) and Jerry Herman’s (music and lyrics) masterpiece, Hello, Dolly!. Directed by four-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly! will begin performances on Broadway on March 13, 2017, with an official opening night of April 20, 2017. Rehearsals begin one year from today.
“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!’”
“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. See you next year!”
In a legendary career spanning five unbroken decades of matchless cultural relevance, Bette 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. Throughout the 1970's, she brought to Broadway three well-loved concert events: Bette Midler (in 1973, and for which she received a special Tony Award), Bette Midler's Clams on the Half Shell Revue (in 1975), and Bette! Divine Madness (in 1979). In 2013, Midler returned to the Broadway stage, after a nearly 40-year absence, to star in the one-woman play I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers in which she played the legendary Hollywood agent, wowing critics and selling out performance after performance in a run that broke the house record at the Booth Theatre. In addition to being one of the best-loved, most versatile, and instantly recognizable entertainers in the world, Midler is also a great and abiding New Yorker and one of its most generous and tireless citizens. In 1994, she started the New York Restoration Project, a non-profit organization devoted to bringing abandoned and neglected parks, gardens and open spaces in all five boroughs back to abundant life.
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 Jerry Zaks as its director, and will feature choreography by Tony Award-winner Warren Carlyle. The new 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.”
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. It was also named Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle. Its original Broadway cast recording hit the top of the Billboard album chart, and years later was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It also marked the greatest producing triumph of legendary impresario David Merrick, running for 2,844 performances over seven years and breaking the record for the longest running show in Broadway history. In addition to Ms. Channing, an astonishing list of Broadway and Hollywood luminaries have inhabited the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi, including Pearl Bailey, Phyllis Diller, Betty Grable, Martha Raye, Ginger Rogers, Ethel Merman (in her last appearance on Broadway), and Mary Martin, who led the West End company.
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JERRY HERMAN (Music & Lyrics). Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage Aux Folles are home to some of the most popular, most-often performed and most successful musical hero(in)es of all time, and have given Jerry Herman the distinction of being the only composer-lyricist in history to have had three musicals that ran more than 1,500 consecutive performances on Broadway. His first Broadway show was Milk and Honey (1961), followed by Hello, Dolly! (1964), Mame (1966), Dear World (1969), Mack & Mabel (1974), The Grand Tour (1979), La Cage Aux Folles (1983), Jerry’s Girls (1985) and “Mrs. Santa Claus” (1996), a CBS TV special starring Angela Lansbury. Showtune, a revue of his life’s work, is performing in regional theatres around the country, and two of Jerry's classic songs are the emotional highlights of the Academy Award-winning Disney-Pixar film WALL-E. His string of awards and honors includes multiple Tony Awards, Grammy Awards, Olivier Awards, Drama Desk Awards, the Johnny Mercer Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, the Oscar Hammerstein Award, the Frederick Loewe Award, membership in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Theatre Hall of Fame and most recently The Kennedy Center Honors.
MICHAEL STEWART (Book) began his career at the Yale Drama School with an original musical based on the poem “Solomon Grundy.” After Yale, he came back to New York to write for Leonard Sillman’s New Faces revues, and from there was enlisted by Sid Caesar to write for the historic Your Show of Shows. Mr. Stewart scored memorably on Broadway his first time out when he won the Tony Award for his libretto for Bye Bye Birdie, the first of many enormously successful musicals he made with Gower Champion. He was the librettist for Carnival! (New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award), also with Gower Champion, and then wrote the book for Hello Dolly!, which won him both the Tony and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards. He also wrote the books for George M! (with Francine and John Pascal), The Grand Tour, Mack & Mabel (also for Mr. Champion), 42nd Street (authored by Mr. Stewart with Mark Bramble, and directed and choreographed by Champion), and Harrigan ‘n Hart. He wrote both the book and lyrics for I Love My Wife, and the lyrics for Barnum.
JERRY ZAKS (Director) has directed more than 35 productions in New York. His credits include Shows For Days, Sister Act, The Addams Family, Guys and Dolls, Six Degrees of Separation, Lend Me a Tenor, The House of Blue Leaves, The Front Page, A Funny Thing…Forum, Smokey Joe’s Café, Anything Goes, La Cage aux Folles, Little Shop of Horrors, The Man Who Came to Dinner, The Foreigner, A Bronx Tale, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Sister Mary Ignatius…, Beyond Therapy, Baby with the Bathwater and The Marriage of Bette and Boo. He has received four Tony Awards and seven nominations. He's also received four Drama Desk Awards, two Outer Critics Circle Awards, and an Obie Award. He directed the award-winning film Marvin’s Room, starring Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Diane Keaton, and Who Do You Love, which was featured in the Toronto Film Festival. Mr. Zaks is a founding member, and serves on the board, of the Ensemble Studio Theater. He received the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society’s George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre and an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Dartmouth College, his alma mater. He is a 2013 inductee to the Theatre Hall of Fame.
WARREN CARLYLE (Choreographer) is a Tony Award-winning director and choreographer who trained in dance at the Central School of Dancing and Performing Arts Norwich, Bush Davies School of Theatre Arts and Doreen Bird College of Performing Arts. Carlyle began his career as a dancer and, in 1998, was chosen by Susan Stroman to serve as associate choreographer for the National Theatre of Great Britain’s production of Oklahoma!, later assisting her on the Broadway musical The Producers. Most recently on Broadway he directed and choreographed After Midnight, Chaplin, the revival of Finian’s Rainbow, the 2015 New York Spring Spectacular starring the Rockettes, and Hugh Jackman: Back On Broadway. He choreographed She Loves Me, On The 20thCentury, The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, A Christmas Story and the recent revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. Mr. Carlyle has won the Tony Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award and the prestigious Astaire Award for choreography. Film and television credits include “The 68th & 69th Annual Tony Awards,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” Deception starring Hugh Jackman, “Carousel, Live from Lincoln Center” (Emmy Award nomination), “Hope and Faith,” “An Evening at the Boston Pops,” and Elton John’s “Made In England” music video.
GOWER CHAMPION (Original Director & Choreographer) is a name synonymous with some of the greatest musicals in Broadway history. In addition to Hello, Dolly!, which cemented his reputation as a legendary theater artist and garnered him Tony Awards for both Direction and Choreography, he directed and choreographed 42nd Street (Tony for Choreography, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography), Bye Bye Birdie (Tony Awards for Direction and Choreography), Carnival! (Tony nomination for Direction), The Happy Time (Tony for both Direction and Choreography) Sugar (Tony nominations for Direction and Choreography), I Do! I Do! (Tony nomination for Direction) and Mack & Mabel (Tony nominations for Direction and Choreography). His first Broadway credit as choreographer, Lend an Ear, won him his first Tony Award for Choreography in 1949. He studied dance from an early age and, at the age of fifteen, toured nightclubs with his friend Jeanne Tyler and later with Marge Belcher, who eventually became his wife. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Champion worked on Broadway as a solo dancer and choreographer. After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, the team of Gower and Marge Champion became one of the most popular attractions on television variety shows, appearing on “Jack Benny,” “Garry Moore,” “Dinah Shore,” “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and even in their own series, “The Marge and Gower Champion Show,” in 1957. The pair also appeared in several film musicals with the likes of Bing Crosby (Mr. Music, 1950), Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel (Show Boat, 1951; Lovely To Look At, 1952), Debbie Reynolds (Give a Girl a Break, 1953), Betty Grable (Three for the Show, 1955), Esther Williams (Jupiter’s Darling, 1955) and occasionally with their own top billing (Everything I Have Is Yours, 1952). Gower Champion died in 1980 on the day that 42nd Street, his last great hit, opened on Broadway. He was awarded the last of his eight Tony Awards posthumously.
THORNTON WILDER (Author of The Matchmaker) was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and educated at Oberlin College, Yale, and Princeton. Wilder was an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works explore the connection between the quotidian details of ordinary life and the cosmic dimensions of human experience. The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of his seven novels, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928, and his next-to-last novel, The Eighth Day, received the National Book Award (1968). Two of his four major plays garnered Pulitzer Prizes: Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943). His play, The Matchmaker, which starred his close friend Ruth Gordon (for whom Wilder wrote the role of Dolly Levi) ran on Broadway for 486 performances (1955-1957), and was later adapted into the record-breaking musical Hello, Dolly!. Wilder also enjoyed enormous success with many other forms of the written and spoken word, among them translation, acting, opera librettos, lecturing, teaching and film (his screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1943 psychological thriller, Shadow of a Doubt, remains a classic to this day). Letter-writing held a central place in Wilder’s life, and since his death, three volumes of his letters have been published to wide acclaim. Wilder’s many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Book Committee’s Medal for Literature. On April 17, 1997, the centenary of his birth, the US Postal Service unveiled the Thornton Wilder 32-cent stamp in Hamden, Connecticut, his official address after 1930 and the town in which he died on December 7, 1975.
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