Hello Dolly had absolutely nothing in common with the play Sweat. Instead of soot and sweat, we got sparkles, feathers, and fancy hats. In place of a gritty bar, we were transported to the red velvet bastion of The Harmonia Gardens. Heated clashes were cast aside for outsize song and dance numbers. And a talented ensemble was replaced with a 5’1″, 71 year old, one woman phenom casting her spell on most every member of the audience.
How fortunate are we to live in a town where in the span of four days you can be treated to live theater on such opposite ends of the spectrum? Some people are self proclaimed play people. Others are song and dance number types. And some people are just theater geeks, happy take in the best of what NYC has to offer. I think most in this group fit this particular category and 30+ of us were lucky to be in the audience on Tuesday smiling away as Bette did her thing on stage. And WOW does that woman ever pack a punch. She was coy! She was flirty! She was saucy! She was scheming! She was hilarious! When she flubbed her lines a bit in the first act, she played it for a laugh and we loved her all the more for it.
It took my brain a bit of time to adjust to good old fashioned Broadway. It took Bette a bit of time to warm into the role, but when she hit her stride in the second act WOW! WOW! WOW! What a crescendo it was – well hello Bette! The words of the title song (that I’ve been humming in my head all day) perfectly capture the essence of what it was like to see the Divine Lady M crooning away on stage, just insert Bette for Dolly. Oh, hello Dolly, well, hello Dolly It’s so nice to have you back where you belong! You’re lookin’ swell, Dolly, I can tell, Dolly You’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’, you’re still goin’ strong! Ms. Midler is an American treasure, glowin’, crowin’ and goin’ strong. It was a gift to see her perform.