Broadway’s not-so-best-kept-secret in recent days is “Who will be replacing Bette Midler when she leaves Hello, Dolly! this January?” Well, the answer to that question should have Broadway fans dancing in the aisles with Bernadette Peters donning the loveliest gown and gliding down the staircase of Harmonia Gardens. Midler departs the production on January 14 and Ms. Peters will begin performances Saturday evening, January 20, 2018, prior to a Thursday, February 22 opening night.
Joining Peters in Hello, Dolly! is Victor Garber who will be replacing David Hyde Pierce as Horace Vandergelder. Garber has appeared in myriad Broadway plays and musicals including Sweeney Todd, Lend Me a Tenor, Damn Yankees, Little Me, Arcadia, Art, and Present Laughter. He originated the role of John Wilkes Booth in Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons. He portrayed Jesus in the film version of Godspell. Other film roles include Titanic, The First Wives Club, Argo, and Sleepless in Seattle. Garber is no stranger to television where he has been a recurring character on such series as Alias, Liberty! The American Revolution, Web Therapy, and Legends of Tomorrow.
Peters, who is a two-time Tony winning actress for her roles in Song & Dance and Annie Get Your Gun, is considered one of Broadway’s most-durable divas. She has been appearing in Broadway musicals for decades, including George M, On the Town, Mack & Mabel, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, The Goodbye Girl, Gypsy, A Little Night Music, and Follies. She has also been a regular mainstay of film and television. In a statement, Ms. Peters said, “I’m absolutely thrilled to continue in the tradition of the incomparable Bette Midler, Carol Channing, and all of the other wonderful actresses who have played Dolly Levi, and I look forward to joining this wonderful company at the Shubert.” Ms. Peters devotes her time and talent to numerous charities including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Broadway Barks, an annual pet adoption event that she co-founded with Mary Tyler Moore that benefits shelter animals throughout the New York City area.
Ms. Midler said, “I cannot imagine leaving Dolly Levi in better hands than those of Bernadette Peters. She has created more historic roles in more legendary musicals than any living Broadway star, and most of the dead ones, too. I cannot wait to see her in the show from my very expensive premium seat in Row G which I know I will have to pay for. She is joining the greatest group of people I have ever worked with, and when my run in this amazing show — and in this amazing part — is over, I will miss all of them more than I can express. I know they will take care of her the way they have taken care of me — with the heart and generosity they have shown me since day one of rehearsal.”
Hello, Dolly! is based on the Thornton Wilder play The Matchmaker about an aging marriage broker who sets out to find love and security for herself, her target in the form of the miserly and curmudgeonly Horace Vandergelder. The musical, which originally premiered on Broadway in 1964 under the direction of Gower Champion, features a score by composer-lyricist Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart. The original production ran 2,844 performances and saw a string of star-studded Dolly’s including Carol Channing, Ethel Merman, and Mary Martin. The current Broadway revival is directed by four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle, Hello, Dolly! began performances on Broadway on March 15, 2017, and officially opened on Thursday, April 20, 2017.
A new block of tickets goes on sale Saturday, September 9, at 10:00 A.M. (ET).
Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals and maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.