Theatre Review: Hello, Dolly! Shubert Theatre, NYC

Oh, thank heavens for husbands. That’s what I say.

Mine – handsome, considerate, charming and organised – booked us for front row tickets to see Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! for a Wednesday matinee. We were nervous about that old myth that stars are more likely to take a Wednesday matinee off, and give the show to their understudy. But we needn’t have worried.

This show was such a delight. Pure entertainment. We gave Bette at least a few standing ovations during the show (and at the end of course). She was spry, funny and charismatic, everything that Dolly should be. I didn’t feel like it was Bette playing Bette… but Bette playing Dolly, where every once in a while, her famous smile or a set of expressions would peak through.

The cast, already nominated for Tony Awards, was outstanding. David Hyde Pierce with perfect comic timing. I loved the joyous enthusiasm of Gavin Creel as Cornelius Hackl. It took a while to recognise Taylor Trensch at Barnaby Tucker but we did! He played Bok in the production of Wicked we saw, I think five years ago, his blond mop of hair recognisable. Kate Baldwin as Irene Molloy had such presence and made the song ‘Ribbons Down My Back’ a showstopper. And I particularly liked Beanie Feldstein as Minnie Fay: charming and hilarious.

The sets were amazing. The costumes stupendous. The cast looked like they were having a whale of a time, and while some might find the front row a little too close, I found it thrilling. Bette even looked at me during one of her songs. Yaaass!

It’s really interesting to see such a great musical with a great cast and big budget. I didn’t know where to look in some numbers as I wanted to see what each cast member was doing; I was so transported into the show that I forgot the construction of the show (dance number, comedy number, second act opening) and unlike other shows we’ve seen this week, and enjoyed, no song or moment or plot idea seemed weak. It was classic, and so much fun, I shed a tear of joy at the end.

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