First Look: Bette Midler Takes to the Broadway Stage for ‘Hello, Dolly!’
Well hello, Dolly!
We have been waiting to see images of Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! — and the first one is finally here!
Starting previews Wednesday, Midler stars opposite David Hyde Pierce in the blockbuster Broadway revival of Jerry Herman’s beloved musical. The hottest ticket this season on Broadway, the musical has already racked up advance sales of more than $40 million.
Midler steps into the role of matchmaker Dolly Levi originated by Carol Channing in 1964. Later, Ethel Merman, Pearl Bailey, Mary Martin and Ginger Rogers would fill her shoes on stage. Barbra Streisand starred in the 1969 screen version.
Midler is no stranger to the Broadway stage herself, having gotten her start there in the mid-60s’.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Midler relocated to New York City in the summer of 1965., a year after the original production of Hello, Dolly! opened on Broadway. She landed her first professional onstage role in Tom Eyen’s Off-Off-Broadway plays in 1965, Miss Nefertiti Regrets and Cinderella Revisited, a children’s play by day and an adult show by night. From 1966 to 1969, she played the role of Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway.
From there, Midler began singing in the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse in the Ansonia Hotel, in the summer of 1970. This is where Midler developed her core, gay following.
Midler commented on her time performing there, “Despite the way things turned out [with the AIDS crisis], I’m still proud of those days. I feel like I was at the forefront of the gay liberation movement, and I hope I did my part to help it move forward. So, I kind of wear the label of ‘Bathhouse Betty’ with pride.”
In 1974, Midler won a special Tony Award for her work in theater.
Watch Bette Midler’s heartwarming and endearing acceptance speech below: