It was fifty years ago this week, on January 16, 1964, that HELLO, DOLLY! opened on Broadway. The 50th anniversary national tour is playing in Little Rock tonight through Thursday (the actual 50th anniversary date).
Winner of ten Tony Awards including Best Musical, Hello, Dolly! is one of the most enduring Broadway classics. Emmy- award winning Sally Struthers (All In the Family, Gilmore Girls) stars as the strong-willed matchmaker Dolly, as she travels to Yonkers, NY to find a match for the ornery “well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder. Featuring an irresistible story and an unforgettable score including the title song, “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” “It Only Takes A Moment,” and the show-stopping “Before the Parade Passes By,” Hello, Dolly! has been charming audiences around the world for 50 years.
Joining Struthers in the cast are John O’Creagh as Horace Vandergelder, Matt Wolfe as Cornelius Hackl, Lauren Blackman as Irene Molloy, Garett Hawe as Barnaby Tucker, Halle Morse as Minnie Fay, Brad Frenette as Ambrose Kemper and Hilary Fingerman as Ermengarde. Others in the cast are Michael Baxter, Zachary Berger, Erin Chupinsky, Joseph Cullinane, Brooke Robyn Dairman, Lucas Fedele, Michael Gorman, Jamey Hood, Liesl Jaye, Louis Jones, Lauren Krautmann, Joseph Nicastro, Michael J. Rios, Lisa Rohinsky, Taylor Schramm, Tony Triano and Paige Wheat. Also in the cast is A.J. Hughes who played one of the leading roles in the 2012 Arkansas Rep production of White Christmas.
The production is directed by Jeffrey B. Moss and choreographed by Bob Richard. Others on the creative team include Charlie Morrison (lighting design) and Peter Fitzgerald (sound design). The production is produced by Big League Productions/Daniel Sher and is brought to Little Rock by Celebrity Attractions.
Hello, Dolly! features a score by Jerry Herman and book by Michael Stewart. It is based on Thornton Wilder’s 1955 play The Matchmaker, which was a reworking of his earlier effort The Merchant of Yonkers (which played roughly a month in 1938). Wilder based his play on Johann Nestroy’s Einen Jux Will Sich Machen (which is loosely translated as “He Wants to Have a Lark”). Nestroy’s play is based on the English play A Day Well Spent by John Oxenford. Wilder took the minor character of the matchmaker and named her Dolly Gallagher Levi for The Merchant of Yonkers. He expanded the part (though he himself termed it “minor revisions”) for the reworking of the play in the 1950s. The new play starred Ruth Gordon as the meddling matchmaker. And the rest, as they say, is history.
It is appropriate that Hello, Dolly! be one of the final touring shows to play Robinson Center Music Hall before it is closed for renovation. Original star Carol Channing brought the production to Little Rock on her national tour, one of the first times an original Broadway star brought a show to Robinson.