A Nifty Fifty for Hello, Dolly!
The beloved American musical, Hello, Dolly! opened 50 years ago today in 1964, at the St. James Theatre on Broadway.
The show ran for 2,844 performances, which at the time was a record. It is currently ranked 19th of the longest running shows on Broadway.
During its original Broadway run, the title role of Dolly Gallagher Levi, the “mischievous matchmaker” was played by seven actresses. Carol Channing originated the role, followed by Ginger Rogers, Martha Raye, Betty Grable, Pearl Bailey, Phyllis Diller and Ethel Merman (as shown in the compilation above, courtesy of callondolly.com).
Hello, Dolly! was originally written for Ms. Merman, but she declined, so Carol Channing snagged the lead, and the rest is history. Ms. Channing became an instant celebrity and was much loved and admired for her twinkling good humor and hard work ethic, never missing performances so as not to disappoint her fans.
The original Broadway production was directed and choreographed by Gower Champion and produced by David Merrick. Jerry Herman wrote the show’s music and lyrics, and Michael Stewart wrote the book. The show won a whopping 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, a record held for 35 years. The show’s album Hello, Dolly! an Original Cast Recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.
Hello, Dolly! has become one of the most enduring musical theater hits, enjoying three Broadway revivals and international success. It was also made into a 1969 film that was nominated for seven Academy Awards.
When I was a kid I used to play my mom’s Dolly album over and over and over again. What great songs – It Takes A Woman, Put on Your Sunday Clothes, Elegance, Before The Parade Passes By, So Long Dearie, and the signature smash Hello, Dolly!
I was just a tiny tot when Dolly debuted on Broadway, but I was fortunate to see Carol Channing later in a revival in Boston. There simply is no one like her. So sweetly funny and sly, she had the audience eating out of her hand.
Of all the original Broadway Dollys, Ms. Channing is the only one still alive, and on Monday, Jan. 21, she’s appearing in New York to discuss her life and career. Perfect timing!
While I can’t make the show on Monday (have to work), I am going to a special event on Saturday, Jan. 18. Entertainer Richard Skipper, is hosting a special program featuring several original Broadway cast members from Hello, Dolly! at the Local 802 Musician’s Hall – NY Sheet Music Society, in New York City. That should be a blast!
Happy Anniversary Dolly! Somewhere around the world you’re still glowin’, crowin’, and goin’ strong.
The original Broadway cast sings Hello, Dolly!: