UPDATE – 9/5/2017: It was announced Tuesday, September 5 that Bernadette Peters will replace Bette Midler as Dolly Levi in the current Broadway production of ‘Hello, Dolly!’
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.”
Bette Midler is slaying audiences every night as Dolly Levi in Broadway’s recent revival of the classic musical comedy Hello, Dolly! Well, not every night, as Donna Murphy fills in on Tuesdays.
There’s been no word from production on who will replace Midler when she leaves after a year, but here are eight divas we think could fill her shoes. We’ve ranked them in terms of likeliness, ending with a rumor that has been circulating and which seems very probable (and very … country).
When Barbra Streisand was cast in the film version, she was way too young — only 27 — to play the middle-aged widow. At 75, she’s now the perfect age to take on the part again.
This is very unlikely, but it would be everything to see Babs back on Broadway. She already knows the lines and lyrics!
Yes, Patti LuPone is currently on Broadway in War Paint. She’s even nominated for a Tony in the same category as Midler. But War Paint hasn’t quite been slaying at the box office, so we doubt it will stay open past the new year. That would be the perfect timing for LuPone to transition as Bette Midler’s Hello, Dolly! replacement.
The talented Meryl Streep has been in quite a bunch of Broadway adaptations for the screen, including Into the Woods and Mamma Mia! The last time she was on Broadway was in the 1977 musical Happy End with Christopher Lloyd.
However, with The Devil Wears Prada slated to come to Broadway in the near future, Streep’s Broadway comeback may already be booked.
Everyone knows Mullally for playing Karen Walker on TV’s Will & Grace, but many don’t know long before that she was a well-established Broadway talent.
Mullally made her Broadway debut as Marty in the 1994 revival of Grease, and subsequently appeared as Rosemary in the hit 1995 revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying opposite Matthew Broderick.
Mullally would be hilarious in the role, but since she’s tied up currently with the revival of Will & Grace, we doubt it will happen.
This is an obvious choice. It also wouldn’t be the first time Midler and Peters shared a role. Midler starred as Mama Rose in the 1993 made-for-TV adaptation of Gypsy, a role Peters revived on the Broadway stage 10 years later. But we’re not sure Peters has the mainstream recognition needed for Midler’s Hello, Dolly! replacement.
In an interview with WWD.com, LaBelle says she’s ready for her shot at Dolly Levi. LaBelle claims she was offered the role four years ago but turned it down.
“That was something else I said no to. Now [Bette Midler] is doing it. I’m going to check it out, and I think I might do it when she leaves — I mean, I would like to” LaBelle tells WWD.
Kind of tacky to mention she was asked first, no?
Rumors have been circulating that Dolly Parton is slated to replace Midler. “Bette has signed on for one year. The entire run is almost sold out, and now producers are looking for life after she leaves,” sources tell Straight Shuter. “The person that they all agree would be perfect to follow Bette is Dolly Parton. The show would literally be, Hello, Dolly!”
But we don’t see this happening. While we would love to say, “Hello, Dolly Parton,” it would be a pretty big commitment to an idol who enjoys her life out of the spotlight.
Other rumors have hinted that Reba McEntire will be stepping into the role when Midler bows out. McEntire did see the show a few weeks ago and was photographed backstage with Midler afterwards.
McEntire’s musical abilities, acting chops and star power are all components of a great formula that points to us thinking, yes, she’s the one. She’d also draw in middle-America’s tourist dollar when they come to the Big Apple for a long weekend, something many musicals (Phantom of the Opera, Wicked and The Lion King) thrive off of.
Humorist and pop culture pundit Michael Musto tells us, “Reba triumphed years ago when she replaced Bernadette Peters in Annie Get Your Gun. I think she’s a great choice.”
Likeliness: Ding ding ding!
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