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October 07, 1994 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-10-07

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 7, 1994 - 9

Hello, Carol! Channing returns in 'Dolly!'

Since its Broadway premiere in
1964, the title role in "Hello, Dolly!"
has been played by a string of charis-
matic women: Ginger Rogers, Martha

W Hello, Dolly!
Fox Theatre
October 4, 1994,
Raye, Betty Grable, Bibi Osterwald,
Pearl Bailey (who later starred in an all-
Black touring company),Phillis Diller,
Ethel Merman and Mary Martin. But
perhaps the most renowned of them all
is Carol Channing, who originated the
After Merman had turned it down,
Channing seized the opportunity to play
Dolly, and promptly made it one of her
two most closely identified roles (the
other being Lorelei in "Gentlemen Pre-
fer Blondes"). She won a Tony award
for Best Actress in a Musical - beat-
ing outBarbra Streisand's "Funny Girl"
- and since then has played the role
well over 4,000 performances. Now
she is "back where she belongs" in the
30th anniversary tour of "Dolly!," and
even at 70 some years old, Carol
Channing still exudes the same charm
and splendor she did in 1964.
The turn-of-the-century story cen-
ters around Dolly Gallagher Levi

(Channing), a New York matchmaker
in the process of helping a stuffy Yon-
kers half-a-millionaire, Horace
Vandergelder (Jay Garner). But Dolly
has her own eyes on Horace, and in the
process of landing him matches up
Horace's two clerks, his whiny niece,
Horace's former sweetie Irene Malloy
(Florence Lacey) and Mrs. Malloy's
hat-shop girl.
Despite its rocky beginnings - a
shaky pre-Broadway tryout in Detroit
which prompted new writers, a new
first-act finale and four new songs -
"Dolly!" has always been a sure suc-
cess with a gifted female comic ve-
hicle. Jerry ("Maine," "La Cage Aux
Folles") Herman's score is light, witty
and melodic; Michael Stewart's book
is chock full of snippets of wisdom like
"Marriage is a bribe to make a house-
keeper think she's a householder" and
"99 percent of the people in the world
are fools and the rest of us are in danger
of contamination."
Fortunately, this production main-
tains much of the original devices as far
as sets, lighting, costumes and direc-
tion go. There is only one way to do
"Dolly!," and that is Gower
Champion's way. Lee Roy Reams has
produced Champion's direction and
choreography admirably, and well he
should; he played Cornelius in
"Dolly!"'s last Broadway revival.
Though Jonathan Bixby credits
"Dolly!" original costume designer

Freddy Wittop with inspiration, it ap-
pears as if someone let the costume
designer from the "Grease" revival
loose; a few numbers (most notably
"Put on Your Sunday Clothes") has a
break-out-those-sunglasses neon qual-
ity. However, the period style, espe-
cially the hats, is outstandingly recre-
ated. Oliver Smith's sets, which make
ample use of scrims, are both func-
tional and surprisingly lavish, espe-
cially the HarmoniaGardens ballroom.
All of the performances are well
above satisfactory, most notably Jay
Garner (of "Buck Rogers" fame) as
Horace and Michael DeVries as
Cornelius. Florence Lacey steals every
moment she can as the plucky hat-shop
owner Irene Molloy; her voice (famil-

iar from "Evita" on Broadway) is huge
and warm and wonderful. However,
everyone takes a backseat to
Channing's Dolly.
It's not that Channing has a spec-
tacular voice, or a breathtaking beauty.
But the truth is that she is over 70, and
she infuses every performance with
her energy and vitality. She is so on for
every moment she is on stage. And in
Dolly's big moment, when she returns
to the Harmonia Gardens and breaks
into the title song, Channingdescended
that staircase, resplendent in that fa-
mous rich red gown, and everyone in
the Fox Theatre was nearly moved to
tears. Before she could even finish the
See DOLLY!, Page ,11

At over 70 years old, Carol Channing is still going strong in "Hello, Dolly!"


Continued from page 8
John Michael Montgomery won
two awards, taking the Single of the
Year for "I Swear" and the Horizon
Award, which honors emerging stars.
Alan Jackson's "Chattahoochee" won
for song of the year; Jackson also
sported the most interesting outfit of

the night, wearing the first western coat
with fringes that I have ever seen with
tails. While deserving of the Horizon
Award, Martina McBride only won
one award for best Music Video with
"Independence Day."
Even in the absence of Garth Brooks
and Randy Travis, the CMA Awards
show proved that country music is a
growing music genre, with more stars
and fan appeal than ever.

a zc - e =-= U rJr T1 rJ cu
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