Bette Midler to Star in the Broadway Revival of 'Hello, Dolly!'

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Bette Midler is set to take on the title role in a Broadway revival of the musical 'Hello, Dolly!' to be produced by Scott Rudin, directed by Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Warren Carlyle. The show is set to begin preview performances on March 13, 2017 and officially open on April 20, 2017. Hello, Dolly!; Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Carol Channing was the first to take on the role of the Dolly Gallagher Levi in a Broadway musical, in 1964. The shoes of the eponymous lead in Hello, Dolly! have also been filled onstage by the likes of Pearl Bailey, Phyllis Diller, Betty Grable, Ethel Merman and Ginger Rogers, as well as by Barbra Streisand in the 1969 film adaptation directed by Gene Kelly and again by Channing in a 1995 Broadway revival. But when the musical returns to Broadway for another revival next year, it will be Bette Midler who takes on the title role.

Midler teased the news late Monday and confirmed it Tuesday morning to her more than 827,000 followers on Twitter. The star expressed her excitement for the upcoming role in both words and exclamation points.

The show—to be produced by Scott Rudin, directed by Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Warren Carlyle—is scheduled to begin preview performances on March 13, 2017 and officially open on April 20, 2017.

"There has not been a new production in 50 years," Scott Rudin told the Associated Press. Rudin's lists of credits for both the screen and the stage are staggering, with television shows like The Newsroom and Silicon Valley; movies like Moneyball, There Will Be Blood and Julie & Julia and stage productions like Fish in the Dark and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. "Partly it was the difficulty of who could play Dolly," he said. "It had to be someone who could take it to a different level. Bette is the only one who can. Never has there been something more inevitable than her in this role."

Midler made her Broadway debut in the original production of Fiddler on the Roof in 1967 as a replacement and understudy for the roles of Tzeitel, Rivka and Fruma-Sarah. A revival of that musical had its opening night in December.

Midler has appeared on Broadway stages since in specials and concerts like Bette Midler's Clams on a Half Shell Revue (1975) and Bette! Divine Madness (1979). She produced Priscilla Queen of the Desert (2011) and starred in the one-woman play I'll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers (2013). The actress, singer and producer has also appeared in a long list of movies including Beaches (1988), Hocus Pocus (1993), The First Wives Club (1996) and The Stepford Wives (2004).

"Many times through the years I've been asked about bringing back Hello, Dolly! and it has always been, 'Who would be my dream Dolly?'" Jerry Herman, who wrote the music and lyrics for the musical, is quoted as saying in a press release announcing the production. "Who is out there that has the necessary stature, warmth, the incredible talent and ability, and especially the singular, outsized personality that I was looking for in a 21st Century Dolly? Only one person: Bette Midler. Only Bette could bring Dolly brilliantly back to 'the lights of 14th Street!'"

The show is a musical adaptation of Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker, and follows the widowed Dolly as she searches for a match for a wealthy merchant from Yonkers, whom she secretly wants to marry herself. Rehearsals are scheduled to begin exactly one year from Tuesday, and Midler can't wait.

"I am looking forward to portraying one of the most beloved characters in all of American musical comedy," she's quoted as saying in the press release. "I know I'm going to have the time of my life.… See you next year!"

Bette Midler to Star in the Broadway Revival of 'Hello, Dolly!' | Culture