The hottest ticket on Broadway right now is for "Hello, Dolly!" starring Bette Midler. The show officially opened Thursday night. Is it deserving of the hype? NY1's Roma Torre has her review.
You know all those "Hello Dolly" ads making it sound like Bette Midler is the second coming? Well, believe them. She morphs into the role of the beloved matchmaker with a star power that brightens the universe. Maybe that's a little extreme, but Jerry Zaks' production of the Jerry Herman classic is one for the ages. Not to take anything away from Carol Channing, but a new Dolly has claimed the mantle, and she is truly back where she belongs!
Sadly, I have no video to show, but the moment Bette enters, there's an electricity that courses through the theatre. The casting is inspired, as the role requires more than talent. It's that intangible "presence" thing that makes a bonafide star, and Midler has it in spades. As the cherished Dolly, she exudes great warmth and an inescapable zest for life that's contagious, and it clearly infects all around her as the cast members seem to be having the time of their lives.
Under Jerry Zaks' masterful direction, this screwball of a show bounces from scene to scene with joyful abandon. What could so easily turn into parody or shtick is here a refreshing diversion that enthralls for the nearly three-hour running time.
And in a nod to the era before technology took over, Santo Loquasto's painted backdrops depicting turn-of-the-19th century New York adds a wonderful authenticity to the production, and his colorful period costumes are stunning.
Warren Carlyle's choreography, playing off of Gower Champion's original steps, puts his wonderful ensemble through their paces, flying across the stage effortlessly. Even the hyped up "Waiter's Gallop" doesn't miss a beat.
The company, across the board, is sensational. David Hyde Pierce — almost unrecognizable with his mutton chops and Yonkers accent — as the sourpuss half-millionaire Horace Vandergelder is quite the hoot.
Gavin Creel makes a terrific Cornelius, and Kate Baldwin as Irene Molloy is wondrous, beautiful, and quite funny!
It's perhaps a measure of my great admiration for this superlative production that I didn't even get to Jerry Herman's iconic score. The 23-piece orchestra plays it to perfection. And with the Divine Miss M to sing it, we've got a match made in heaven!