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Interesting discrepancy between the audience response to early previews and later previews!
Posted by: Marlo*Manners 10:13 am EDT 04/20/17
In reply to: re: HELLO DOLLY! Tonight - Cainebj 07:31 am EDT 04/20/17

I think the people who bought early preview tickets were Midler (and possibly also "Dolly!") superfans. They were going on and on about how charismatic and funny and effective Midler is as Dolly Levi and how the whole cast and production are terrific. Just "this is the greatest experience of a Broadway musical of my lifetime" "Bette is perfection, the set is perfection, the orchestra is perfection, Gavin Creel is perfection, Kate Baldwin is perfection." On and on though people were divided about David Hyde Pierce's fussy sour old bachelor of a Horace and how there was no chemistry between DHP and Midler in their scenes together - sexual or comedic.

Also Midler was one of those "Broadway star who got away" phenomenons. After that early gig as a replacement Tzeitel in the original Broadway production of "Fiddler", Bette moved into cabaret, concerts, rock albums and then movies and television and stayed there. A bunch of older Broadway fans longed for her to "come back where she belongs" and do a big Broadway musical show (her initial youthful show business aspiration). The confluence of Dolly Levi who in "Hello Dolly!" is rejoining the human race and reentering the Harmonia Gardens after decades of being away in her "personal haze" to reclaim her lost glory of long ago (whatever and whenever that was) and Midler finally coming back to Broadway to rejoin her fans by starring in a classic diva vehicle (her original personal dream) is uncanny. I was told by friends who saw the show that Midler was getting mid-show standing ovations for just showing up - the entrance at the top of the stairs in that iconic red dress at the top of the title number brought the house down. So in some ways it was a personal appearance, not a performance.

Many were saying that 70 year-old Bette was vocally marking and pacing herself through the Act I numbers saving up her now limited vocal resources for "Before the Parade Passes By" and the title number. Also that from the beginning she was throwing in ad libs about being exhausted and how demanding the show was. Those "I'm so pooped" jokes were initially cute but now seem for some audience members to be an excuse for walking through the show on autopilot?

Now the latest commenters are saying the star, the show and the production are tired and flat - even established Broadway stalwarts Creel and Baldwin get no love.

So is the star getting tired and walking through the show bringing the whole evening down with her? Was the original response fan excitement and hype over seeing a youthful idol back on Broadway as a musical star after nearly half a century? What is going on here?

Marlo Manners (Lady Barrington)
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