Why Does a Bette Midler Performance at the 2017 Tony Awards Seem Unlikely?

Tony Awards   Why Does a Bette Midler Performance at the 2017 Tony Awards Seem Unlikely? It takes noticeably more time for the parade to pass by at Radio City than at the Shubert.
Bette Midler
Bette Midler Julieta Cervantes

As initially reported by The New York Times, Hello, Dolly! headliner Bette Midler is currently not expected to perform during the Tony Awards ceremony on June 11. Instead, her co-star and fellow Tony nominee David Hyde Pierce will likely take the stage to sing “Penny in My Pocket” for the revival’s slot on the broadcast.

According to The New York Post, producer Scott Rudin had initially offered Midler’s performance of the title song or “Before the Parade Passes By” to the Tony Awards, but only if it could be broadcast from the Shubert Theatre (where the revival plays) instead of at Radio City Music Hall. Tony officials passed on the idea, citing concerns about setting a precedent.

Rudin’s insistence that the production perform from its original home was primarily due to staging concerns, according to the Post. Both of Dolly’s numbers utilize a passerelle, on which she makes multiple crosses in front of the proscenium. The Radio City’s passerelle is notably larger than that at the Shubert, which would affect blocking and timing.

As an incentive, Rudin also reportedly offered to host a viewing party from the Shubert Theatre, where audiences would watch the Tony Awards broadcast before and after the live performance. The producer tells the Post that proceeds would have gone to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Regardless, with ten Tony Award nominations, Hello, Dolly! will be represented on the CBS broadcast in one way or another. Audiences can also expect performance from such nominated shows as Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Dear Evan Hansen, Groundhog Day, and Come From Away, as well as the revival of Falsettos, despite ending its limited run earlier this year.

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