Richard, Stephanie, and I saw *Hello, Dolly!* on 11/22. Richard and I saw it in April and went hog wild for it. We toyed with the idea of seeing it a second time, before Bette Midler leaves the show in January. It was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience, so why not do it a second time? Stephanie was eager to see it, too, so I got tickets for the three of us.
Let me tell you this right up front: you hear lots of talk about people paying thousands of dollars to see a hot Broadway show, and with Midler only in it for a few more weeks, this is a hot ticket indeed. I paid $85 to see this, both times. All it takes is a little planning, and a willingness to sit in the last rows of the uppermost balcony. You won't catch me paying $1000 to see anything.
Of course I was a little afraid that the show wouldn't be as dazzling the second time, but it more or less was just as dazzling. The audience was almost as rabid (Richard thought they were even more rabid), especially for Midler. I felt like this time I was able to pay a little more attention to the show itself. It's a fascinating show, totally old school show biz. The whole show is built around that central leading lady, and she could have any variety of talents and weaknesses, but the role (and the show) is flexible enough to adapt to whoever she is and whatever she's able to deliver.
I was bothered by Kate Baldwin's performance of "Ribbons Down My Back" when we saw the show in April, she took way too many rhythmic liberties, she distorted the song. That wasn't the case anymore. Either I saw her on an off night before, or someone spoke with her, or she read my review!
Stephanie picked up on the fact at the wacko dance number leading into the "Hello, Dolly" number had a strong whiff of the circus. All of that balancing of trays, high kicking of legs, the manic music, and especially the balancing of plates, it was totally Barnum and Bailey. Sweet! Thankfully this strong whiff of the circus didn't include a whiff of elephant poop, which is what I remember most vividly from my trip to the circus when I was a kid...
Richard and I picked up on a few moments when Midler and David Hyde Pierce seemed to be extending their bits beyond what we'd seen the first time. She added a long hilarious sequence with her red feathered headdress, and he extended one of his bits with the ditz in the restaurant. She stood there and jiggled her wares while he said, "No. No. No." It seemed to go on and on for about two full minutes, it was a scream. So cheap, but so delightful!
Midler and Pierce leave the show in January, they're being replaced by Bernadette Peters and Victor Garber. And I'm very curious about what Donna Murphy is doing with the role - - she's doing one or two shows a week, to give Midler some time off. Is it possible I'll be seeing this show one or two more times?