An interesting thing to keep in mind when watching the song "Hello, Dolly!" is that audiences don't just start applauding from anticipation of the Big Hit Song -- though that's of course a big part of it -- but the show's creators songwriter Jerry Herman and director Gower Champion came up with a clever idea. Not only is the song about Dolly Levi finally returning to her favorite restaurant after many years away, "rejoining the human race," as she says at the end of the first act...but they intentionally withheld her second act entrance until this moment. So, the audience has not only not seen the big-name star for about 10-15 minutes into the second act, but there was the 15-minute intermission before that. So, it's almost been a half-hour since the people have seen her. So, when she comes down the stairs, it's not just the song and Dolly's return that the audience is applauding, but the return of the actress, as well.
By the way, this gives me the opportunity to bring up the passing of Broadway legend Hal Prince who passed away the other day at the age of 91. As a producer or director, he won 21 Tony Awards, the most of any person, for such shows as Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, Phantom of the Opera (the longest-running show in the history of Broadway), Evita, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Candide, Follies, and my fave Fiorello! -- and many more, over a 70 year career, even up to as recently as just two years ago when at the age of 89 he directed a revue of his work, Prince of Broadway.
So, how does Hello, Dolly! fit into this, since he neither producer nor directed it? That's because of a famous story where the musical's equally-legendary producer David Merrick had asked Prince to direct the show, which he not only turned down -- but suggested to Merrick that they cut the title song because it made no sense.
His legend lives far beyond this.
And just to bring all this full circle -- at the very beginning of her career, Bette Midler was actually in the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, that Hal Prince produced! She wasn't in the original cast, but was the first (I believe) replacement for one of Tevye's daughters, Tzeitel -- the one arranged to marry the butcher Lazar Wolf, but who Tevye is convinced to let her marry her true love, the tailor Motel Kamzoil.
But back to that title song Hal Prince thought should be cut, but was wisely left in, here it is --.