I like the musical Hello, Dolly! very much. I saw it on stage in Chicago with Carol Channing, and I've written here about a range of different productions. I'm not crazy about the movie version, though it has some very good things in it -- most notably the classic score by Jerry Herman. And the book by Michael Stewart (who among other things also wrote Bye Bye Birdie) is very enjoyable, based on Thornton Wilder's play The Matchmaker.
Actually, the show's history goes back even further than that. In fact, Wilder's play is based on his own play, The Merchant of Yonkers, which he'd written 15 years earlier in 1938, but wasn't successful. And that,,in turn, was based on an Austrian play, Einen Jux will er sich machen written by Johann Nestroy in 1842. But we're not done yet -- because this Austrian play was based on a one-act play written in 1835, A Day Well Spent by John Oxenford.
The show is now playing in Los Angeles with Broadway legend Betty Buckley in the lead. Oddly, much as I like the show, I haven't gotten tickets for it. Betty Buckley is a terrific performer -- starring in the original Broadway cast of Cats, introducing the standard Memory to the U.S., and starring in Broadway and London productions of Sunset Boulevard. Among a great deal more. But my feeling is that she's brings out a great deal in these darker, edgier shows, rather than the light-hearted whimsy of Hello, Dolly! -- even though she was one of the leads in the old sitcom, Eight is Enough. While a comic role, she was mostly the ballast in the series. I could be totally wrong about this -- I'm sure she does a very good job. It's just not a production I feel driven to see.
That said, I came across a video of her singing Before the Parade Passes By in the production, and she's excellent. That said, the lead-in to the song is one of the more serious sequences in the show, as she talks to her late husband about wanting to join the human race. (Extremely good as she is in the scene, I also think it points to my concerns. Serious as the moment is, Dolly hasn't really avoided life -- she's effervescent from her very first appearance in the first scene, a do-everything busybody imposing herself in everyone's lives. What she wants is to bring romance back in her life. This performance seems more about someone saying she has cut herself off from the world. And, to me, that's not the character or the show. Nor does it have the explosive, fun vibrance that I think a scene with a marching band and parade in this show calls for. But -- as a standalone scene, it's really well-done.)
Here 'tis --
Leave a Reply.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor