Review: ‘Hello, Dolly!’ at Shubert Theatre

By Jonathan Spira on 27 April 2017
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When I was 7 or so, my parents gave me an inexpensive Ross stereo with a built-in compact cassette tape deck. For some reason, it came with the original cast soundtrack for “Hello, Dolly!” and I was hooked. By the age of 7 1/2, I knew the entire album word for word although I really didn’t fully understand what the show was about.

Many don’t know that “Hello, Dolly!,” a 1964 musical by Jerry Herman, was based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 story The Merchant of Yonkers, which, almost 20 years later, was revised and retitled The Matchmaker. Fewer people still, realize that Wilder’s story was based on Johann Nestroy’s “Einen Jux Will Er Sich Machen,” roughly “He’ll Have Himself a Good Time,” a musical play first presented at the Theater an der Wien in 1842, which itself was based on the 1834 farce, “A Day Well Spent” by John Oxendford.

Dolly, of course, is Dolly Gallagher Levi, who makes her living as a professional “meddler,” handing out business cards à la Jim Rockford, customized for any occasion (for example “Dolly Levi, counselor-at-law”).

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Given my early appreciation for the show and its star, Carol Channing, I approached the 2017 revival with the Divine Miss M, Bette Midler, with a modicum of trepidation. I need not have.

The plot revolves around Dolly’s plans to marry a wealthy Yonkers merchant, Horace Vandergelder (David Hyde Pierce), who engaged her as a matchmaker unaware of her plans to marry him herself. Vandergelder’s two clerks, Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker (Gavin Creel and Taylor Trench) leave Yonkers for an “adventure” in the city, run into their boss and Dolly, and hilarity ensues.

Click here to continue to Page 2Presenting The Divine Miss M

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