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Is it “Hello Dolly” or “Hello Bette”? Hmm, I’d have to say the latter.

Bette Midler took to the stage at the Shubert Theater like no other. From the moment she walked on stage to her final curtain call, she was on fire. Her comic flair changed the texture of Dolly, and I loved it. Thank You, Bette, for breathing new life into the old character that we love.

Her voice was smooth, sultry and had the power to bring the audience to their feet. If they could’ve screamed out “encore, encore,” they would have. As I say, you can never get enough of Midler. She’s brilliant!

When she sang the signature song, you could hear the taking of a deep breath in the audience right before she sang, and with that, they all sang along, in a low voice of course…Midler works alone. Thank you very much. People, take note. That’s how it’s done!

Her castmates: David Hyde Pierce, “Horace Vandergelder”; Donna Murphy (in certain performances); Kate Baldwin, “Irene Molloy”; Will Burton, “Ambrose Kemper”; Gavin Creel, “Cornelius Hackl”; Beanie Feldstein, “Minnie Fay”; Taylor Trensch, “Barnaby Tucker”; and the ensemble cast, including Giuseppe Bausilio, Cameron Adams, Phillip Attmore, Justin Bowen, Taeler Elyse Cyrus, Elizabeth Earley, Leslie Donna Flesner, Jenifer Foote, Jessica Lee Goldyn, Blake Hammond, Stephen Hanna, Michael Hartung, Robert Hartwell, Amanda LaMotte, Analisa Leaming, Jess LeProtto, Ian Liberto, Kevin Ligon, Nathan Madden, Melanie Moore, Linda Mugleston, Hayley Podschun, Jessica Sheridan, Jennifer Simard, Michaeljon Slinger, Christian Dante White, Branch Woodman, Ryan Worsing and Richard Riaz Yoder. All of them were stunningly amazing!

Midler turned eating into a delicious comic challenge. She woofed down a turkey leg in the most ultimate, humorous way possible, as only she can do—she twisted, turned and double talked. It was hysterical, just genius.

Her “Dolly” was vibrant, full of life, and let’s not forget fabulous. Of course, there was the anticipated moment of seeing her in the glorious red plumes and sequins as she strutted with finesse as a bevy of singing waiters tagged along. It was a divine moment for Miss M!

Pierce made Horace Vandergelder his own. The character had a funnier edge and a grumpy old man vibe. I’m sure we all know one or two people just like that! He did a lovely job up against Bette’s Dolly. Congratulations; nicely played and presented. He and Midler received several standing ovations, which they rightfully deserved, for their work.

Midler joined the “Dolly Sisterhood” of leading ladies: Barbra Streisand, Carol Channing, Lainie Kazan, Tovah Feldshuh, Michele Lee, Marilyn Maye, Ethel Merman, Pearl Bailey, Mary Martin, Danny La Rue, Samantha Spiro, Dorothy Lamour, Eve Arden, Ann Sothern, Edie Adams, Yvonne De Carlo, Molly Picon and Betsy Palmer, just to name a few.
A little back history on “Hello Dolly”: The meddlesome widow started out as “The Matchmaker” in 1955, which expanded into the role of “Dolly,” played by Ruth Gordon. “The Matchmaker” became a hit and was revived and made into a 1958 film of the same name starring Shirley Booth. Just a nostalgic trip to bring you up to speed, in case you didn’t know how it all began.
The original score was in place, all of which I loved, but I especially enjoyed the following numbers: “Hello Dolly,” “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” and of course “Before the Parade Passes By.” Beautiful!
Again, Midler’s “Hello Dolly” has a new life, which she made happen, and we love her for it. Thank you yet again. It may have taken a few years, but she did it, and she did it Bette’s way! Mazel Tov!
The show is not to be missed, or shall I say see it, and “Don’t Let the Parade Pass You By.” …and that’s show biz, kid!
Best Always,

Frankie C
thecolumnbyfrankiec@gmail.com
Follow me on Twitter: @FrankieC_

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