Bette’s Out, Bernadette’s In

Everyone had been speculating what would happen once Bette Midler left Broadway‘s Hello, Dolly.  After Carol Channing departed, the original production lasted for six years led by such luminaries as Phyllis DillerBetty GrableEthel MermanMartha RayeGinger Rogers, and even Pearl Bailey.  Alas, we live in different times, and there aren’t quite as many Dollys out there with the necessary name recognition and box-office clout.  I hardly expect Scott Rudin to put millions of dollars behind the serviceable talents of such regional Dollys as Vicki Lewis or Sally Struthers.  So, the casting of Bernadette Peters as Bette’s replacement is not only inevitable but expected.  Midler leaves on January 14th.  The show will shut down for a week.  Then Peters begins previews on January 20th and officially opens on February 22nd.  And she won’t be alone.  When Bette leaves, she takes David Hyde Pierce with her.  So, the new Horace Vandergelder will be the dashing Victor Garber.  If anyone is keeping track, this production touts two queer icons playing Dolly and two gay men playing Horace.  That’s gotta count for something.

By the way, when Bette leaves Dolly, she’ll also be taking her alternate with her.  Donna Murphy has been doing all of the Tuesday night shows, a handful of Sundays, and scattered weeks here and there when the Divine Miss M needed a nap.  Bernadette has announced that she’ll be playing all eight shows a week.

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