The first musical I attended was Hello, Dolly! starring Carol Channing, and it took place during the show’s 1995 revival when it came to the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia between February 25 and March 5 of that year. In 2017, I saw Hello, Dolly! when it was revived again—this time on Broadway with the incredible Bette Midler. It is the greatest musical I have ever seen. Not only was Bette fantastic in this role which seemed tailor made for her, but the crowd that night was electric. It felt as if I was at Woodstock, Live Aid, or some other seminal moment in music history. The magic was palpable, and I’m thrilled that I had the chance to see Bette in her role of a lifetime, for which she deservedly received a Tony Award. Bette’s Hello, Dolly! broke the Broadway record for best first-day ticket sales, the box office record at the Shubert Theatre 12 times, and it shattered The Shubert Organization’s all-time record 10 times! Running from March 15, 2017 through August 25, 2018, this triumphant revival is now showing at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia.
Starring three-time Tony Award nominee Carolee Carmello, Hello, Dolly! is running at the Academy of Music through March 1. If you have the opportunity to see this show live, you absolutely must do so. Carmello does a fantastic job of carrying (and twirling) the old baton made famous by Bette in the 2017 revival of what has been called Broadway’s greatest musical.
What makes Hello, Dolly! remarkable is that Jerry Herman wrote all of the music and lyrics. Considering how many exceptional songs there are in this musical, this is an astounding accomplishment. As I write this, I’m listening to “Before The Parade Passes By” and I’m reminded of how Carmello hit notes I didn’t even think were possible. This touring version of the 2017 revival truly captures the magic and grandeur of what made that show so special.The title song is the signature showstopper and it’s as potent as ever. As I listen to it right now, I notice that the song features a banjo, which is prominent in Philadelphia’s mummer music. How perfect is it that a timeless musical that is showing right now at the Academy of Music has musical elements that are an essential part of an iconic Philadelphia institution? Philadelphia and Hello, Dolly! are a match so perfect you’d think that Dolly Levi herself made it.
Hello, Dolly! is more than a musical with great songs. The dance numbers are so impressive that they are routinely met with spontaneous bursts of applause from the audience. The dialogue is sharp, witty, and humorous, and there’s great character development throughout the show—ensuring that the audience is intellectually and emotionally invested for the entirety of the musical. Hello, Dolly! will make you smile, give you chills, and have you singing along from start to finish. Welcome home, Dolly! Promise you’ll never go away again.