Bette Midler Steps Down on January 14, 2018
The presently running revival of Hello, Dolly! has been an absolute smash hit, due in no small part to the star power of the original leading lady, Bette Midler. The revival was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, winning four: those for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for Bette Midler, Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for Gavin Creel, and Best Costume Design of a Musical for Santo Loquasto. In more recent months, Bette Midler has been taking intermittent breaks due to her busy schedule, and Donna Murphy has stepped in, playing the role on Tuesday evening performances, as well as select times when Midler took prescheduled vacation. However, it became blatantly clear from a box office perspective that Murphy could not carry this show for very long. For instance, in the week ending July 2, 2017, when Murphy first took over for a whole week from Midler, the weekly box office gross dropped by a jaw-dropping amount: the weekly gross decreased by $1,368,878, going down from the previous week’s gross of $2,305,481, to the Murphy-led week’s gross of $936,603. The following week, when Murphy continued, the gross dropped even lower to $722,574. That alarmingly low number made it blatantly clear that if this show was to continue post-Midler, the producers would have to find a real class A star to step into her place.
After a brief hiatus following Bette Midler’s final performance on January 14, 2018, Bernadette Peters will commence performances eight times a week as Dolly Gallagher Levi on January 20, 2018. As for Donna Murphy, her final performance will be the Tuesday evening, January 9, 2018, prior to Midler’s final bow. Bernadette Peters is a three-time Tony Award winner whose many Broadway credits include Follies, A Little Night Music, Gypsy, Annie Get Your Gun, Sunday in the Park with George, The Goodbye Girl, and Into the Woods. She is a bonafide Broadway star, of arguably even higher stature on stage than Midler, and this announcement is sure to excite fans and propel the revival to remain for quite a while longer. In addition, the co-stars will revolve with the new leading lady. David Hyde Pierce plays his final performance on the same date as Bette Midler, and in his stead, the role of Horace Vandergelder will be played by Victor Garber. Garber has been nominated for Tony Awards for his roles in Damn Yankees, Lend Me a Tenor, Little Me, and Deathtrap, and his additional Broadway credits include Arcadia, Sweeney Todd, and Art. Both actors are also very well known for their screen performances: Peters has recently been seen on screen in the Amazon television series Mozart in the Jungle and the CBS series The Good Fight, and Garber’s film credits include Titanic, Sicario, and Argo. Meanwhile, the role of Barnaby Tucker, previously played by Taylor Trensch, will now be played by Charlie Stemp, the Olivier Award nominated actor from Half a Sixpence.
Bernadette Peters and Victor Garber Reunited
In stepping into Hello, Dolly! together on January 20, 2018, Bernadette Peters and Victor Garber will not be playing opposite each other for the first time. Most notably, the two actors co-starred in the 1997 television adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, which starred Brandy Norwood as Cinderella, and which was recently adapted to the stage for a healthy run. In the film, Peters played Cinderella’s stepmother, and Garber played King Maximillian. Nevertheless, Hello, Dolly! will be a new experience for the two actors to play opposite each other so directly.
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