Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Broadway Theater Review: Hello, Dolly! with Bette Midler TOP PICK

Bette Midler. Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Hello, Dolly!

Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Book By Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker
Choreography by Warren Carlyle, based on the original choreography by Gower Champion
Directed by Jerry Zaks
Shubert Theatre

By Lauren Yarger
Well, Hello, Dolly! It;s so nice to have you back where you belong!

This is going to be a very short review. Go see this show. That is all.

The first new production of the classic Jerry Herman musical (based on a Thornton Wilder play) to appear on Broadway since it opened more than 50 years ago is the sensation of the season.

It's star, Bette Midler as matchmaker Dolly Levi, leads a dream cast featuring the always delightful David Hyde Pierce as her intended, Horace Vandergelder, with Gavin Creel and the silvery voiced Kate Baldwin as romantic interests Cornelius and Irene. All are at the top of their game, no doubt fueled by the crazy energy in the house as people can barely contain themselves. The house lights come down and applause breaks out. The orchestra (led by the capable Music Direction of Andy Einhorn) hits familiar tunes in the overture and there is more enthusiastic applause.

When Midler finally makes her appearance on stage, the house (peppered with celebrities throughout) goes nuts! The show is the hottest ticket in town (well, if you don't count last year's sensation, Hamilton). In its first full week of regular performances, the show shattered box office records at the Shubert Theatre. It might be hard to find a ticket, but you really should try.

Everything is a delight. Santo Loquasto's lovey sets and period costumes give the production an old-fashioned charm. They are the perfect backdrop for the big dance numbers elegantly staged by Warren Carlyle. He recreates the feel of Gower Chapion's original choreography while putting his own clever and precise stamp on the work.

While some of the actual blocking had me wondering why people were walking around in circles on the stage, Director Jerry Zaks gets the matchmaker of the year award by putting just the right creatives and performers together. Bette as Dolly. What could be better than that? "Before the Parade Passes By" stops the show. Look for her and the musical to take home some Tony awards on June 11. 

The show is not just about Bette, though. The other principals all delightful as well. Rounding out the top-billed roles are Taylor Trensch, Beanie Feldstein, Will Burton, Melanie Moore, KevinLigon and Jennifer Simard.

It Only Takes a Moment -- get on down to the Box office at the Shubert, 225 West 44th St., NYC for two and a half hours of pure enjoyment.  

More information:
On Tuesdays beginning June 13 Tony-winner Donna Murphy will play the role of Dolly Levi as well as June 27 - July 2, July 5 - 9, Sunday evening July 30, Sept. 6 - 10, Sunday evening - Oct. 15, Monday evening - Oct. 30, Nov. 1 - 5, Friday - Nov. 24 at 2 pm, and Sunday evening - Jan. 7.

Bette Midler will perform the role of Dolly Levi on Tuesday - Nov. 21.


Additional casting:
The ensemble includes Cameron Adams, Phillip Attmore, Giuseppe Bausilio, Justin Bowen, Elizabeth Earley, Taeler Cyrus, Leslie Donna Flesner, Jenifer Foote, Jessica Lee Goldyn, Stephen Hanna, Michael Hartung, Robert Hartwell, Aaron Kaburick, Amanda LaMotte, Analisa Leaming, Jess LeProtto, Ian Liberto, Kevin Ligon, Nathan Madden, Michael McCormick, Linda Mugleston, Hayley Podschun, Jessica Sheridan, Michaeljon Slinger, Christian Dante White, Branch Woodman, Ryan Worsing, and Richard Riaz Yoder.
Additional credits:
Natasha Katz (Lighting Design), Tony Award® winner Scott Lehrer (Sound Design), Andy Einhorn (Music Direction), Tony Award® winner Larry Hochman (Orchestrations), Tony Award® winner Don Pippin (Vocal Arrangements), David Chase (Dance Arrangements)

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York. Shifting from reviewing to producing, Yarger owns Gracewell Productions, which produced the Table Reading Series at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. She trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run. She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She wrote reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She was a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice president and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (producer of the annual awards ceremony) and a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, serving as Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter. Yarger was a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2022 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women or people of a certain race are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide, or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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