10 Cool Facts About the Broadway Musical "Hello, Dolly!"

Two "Dollys", Pearl Bailey and Carol Channing in 1973 TV special. Public Domain, Wikipedia

1) Hello, Dolly! went through a lot of revisions! It began as a whimsical one-act by John Oxenford. His 1838 farce detailed the misadventures of two hapless workers who skip work and frolic about London. A hundred years later, Thorton Wilder borrowed the idea for his play, The Merchant of Yonkers. It flopped, but he revamped the storyline for a new version which centered on a scheming yet lovable woman named Dolly Levi.

This play became the hit show, The Matchmaker.

2) The original production of Hello, Dolly! ran for 2,844 performances, ranking it among the top-twenty longest running Broadway shows of all time.

3) The musical is the biggest hit (so far) of composer/lyricist Jerry Herman (who also created shows such as Mame and La Cage aux Folles).

4) The role of Dolly Levi was turned down by Broadway legends Ethel Merman and Mary Martin – but each diva eventually played the role after the show became hugely popular.

5) Carol Channing originated the role of Dolly Levi. She never missed a single performance. (That must have irked her understudy!) She earned a Tony Award and a reputation as a show-stopping attention-getter, despite the fact that she once said: “I'm terribly shy, but of course no one believes me. Come to think of it, neither would I!"

6) Barbara Streisand swiped the role away from Channing to star in the film version.

Many Broadway aficionados complained that Streisand (then only 27) was too young for the role. (Critics would later grumble that she was too old to play the title role in Yentl.)

7) Producer David Merrick recast the Broadway production after its fourth year on Broadway, just as ticket sales were beginning to decline.

The entire new cast was black, with the legendary Pearl Bailey helming the title role

8) Carol Channing donated her shimmering red dress made famous in Hello, Dolly! It was accepted by the Smithsonian’s Natural Museum of American History. The costume was designed by award winning Freddy Wittop.

9) Michael Crawford co-starred in the movie as the scrawny, squeaky-voiced Hay and Feed clerk, Cornelius Hackl. The young comic actor would go on to create the role of Broadway’s most famous romantic lead / homicidal maniac, The Phantom of the Opera.

10) Disney / Pixar’s 2008 blockbuster Wall-E prominently features two songs from Hello, Dolly!. The lonely sanitation robot spends his evening watching the musical motion picture Hello, Dolly! (which was directed by none other than Gene Kelly). Wall-E dances along to “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” and dreams of romance when he listens to “It Only Takes a Moment.”

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Bradford, Wade. "10 Cool Facts About the Broadway Musical "Hello, Dolly!"." ThoughtCo, Jan. 16, 2016, thoughtco.com/cool-facts-about-hello-dolly-2713493. Bradford, Wade. (2016, January 16). 10 Cool Facts About the Broadway Musical "Hello, Dolly!". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/cool-facts-about-hello-dolly-2713493 Bradford, Wade. "10 Cool Facts About the Broadway Musical "Hello, Dolly!"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/cool-facts-about-hello-dolly-2713493 (accessed November 21, 2017).