Earlier this week it was announced that stage and screen star Bette Midler will return to The Great White Way in 2017 in Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly!, the first production of the classic musical to open on Broadway without its original star, Carol Channing.
In an interview with The New York Times, Midler spoke about the role — matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi — that will bring her back to the New York stage. "It has an enormous amount of weight, and the score is irresistible," Midler told the Times. "It’s a very American thing, with a joyous quality, a kind of can-do quality, and an incredible sweetness, and in these dire times, when the whole world seems to be on fire, it seems like something people would love to see."
Composer-lyricist Herman, whose musicals include Mack and Mabel, Mame and La Cage aux Folles, also spoke with the Times about Broadway's newest Dolly. "There were so many suggestions of very talented women, but nobody pressed that button that made me say, 'Wow,' and then when I saw Bette on television doing a part of her Vegas act, it all happened," Herman said. "I said, 'This is the lady who can do it.' The time has come."
Midler, who will be 71 by the time the revival opens on Broadway, said the part will be "a big challenge," adding, "It's going to be fun, and more than anything I like to have fun.… It’s a lot — I’m no spring chicken — but I’m curious, and I love to do all the things this character is required to do. It keeps me thin, which I like, and it keeps me engaged."
"Bette is an original, and Dolly needs to be an original," Herman added.
Four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks will direct, and Tony winner Warren Carlyle will choreograph the production, which will begin Broadway previews March 13, 2017, and open April 20 at a theatre to be announced.