UPDATE Tuesday morning: Confirms Bette Midler’s return and corrects director of Hello, Dolly! film.
It’s a year away, but producer Scott Rudin confirmed this morning what Deadline reported last night: Bette Midler will return to Broadway as Dolly Gallagher Levi in a revival of Hello, Dolly!, directed by four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, also a Tony winner. The show is slated to begin performances at a theater to be determined on March 13, 2017, with an official opening night of April 20. 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?’” said Jerry Herman, who wrote the score (with book author Michael Stewart) of the 1964 hit, in the announcement of the plans. “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. 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!’”
Midler, who teased the announcement with a Tweet on Monday night, said, “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!. 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!”
EARLIER: Last time out, she played superagent Sue Mengers. On Monday night, Bette Midler posted this tease:
making it look a lot like she plans to return to Broadway in a revival of Hello, Dolly!
In the spring of 2013, a muu-muu clad Midler starred in I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers, John Logan’s solo play about the mouthy queen of Hollywood agents — produced, appropriately, by Vanity Fair editor, restaurateur and sometime producer Graydon Carter. In 1974, the diva was given a Special Tony Award “for adding lustre to the Broadway season” for her first concert in the District. And in 2011, she co-produced the musical adaptation of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.
Indeed, her history with Broadway stretches back to 1967, when she replaced and understudied Tzeitel and Rivka ion the original production of Fiddler On The Roof.
Midler’s desire to play the role created by Carol Channing in Jerry Herman’s 1964 musical classic has been a persistent chatter subject for several years. (Barbra Streisand played Dolly Levi in Gene Kelly’s 1969 film and Channing returned to the spotlight in the most recent Broadway revival, in 1996.) So far, any actual plans have been tightly held — until tomorrow, apparently.