written by our in-house broadway expert, Eric Strauss
I had the pleasure to see two legends perform, in a legendary role, in a legendary show: Bette Midler and Bernadette Peters in Hello, Dolly!
Bette Midler opened this revival in the summer of 2017. I scored tickets months in advance – any later and it was completely sold out. Bette was a powerhouse. She played the role with such sass and shtick. She gave herself plenty of room to improvise – she often would play to the audience as she would in her Vegas show.
Fast forward to about six months later, I had the pleasure of seeing Bernadette Peters in her opening night in Dolly. Another Broadway legend in this iconic role. I had wondered how the two divas would differ. Same role but played so differently.
While Bette is larger-than-life, Bernadette is more of a classic Broadway actor. She has been playing Broadway houses since the 1950’s in classics such as “Sunday in the Park with George”, “Into the Woods” and “Gypsy”.
Bernadette played the role more true to the character whereas Bette hammed it up more for the crowd. Bernadette did stumble over some lines – at one point even restarting part of a scene. Chalk it up to opening night jitters but nonetheless, she shined bright.
One of the crowning highlights of the show, no surprise is the title number “Hello, Dolly!” Both Divas descended the infamous staircase in their beaded red gown and feather head-dress. The crowd erupted with cheer – room shaking applause and giving a standing ovation at the end which seemed to go on for an eternity.
All in all, these Dolly divas were thrilling to watch. Both giving it a little something special to make it their own. I can’t wait to see who will take on the role after Bernadette. I’d love to see Dolly Parton – that would be a real “Hello, Dolly” – or as she might say, Hey y’all, Dolly!