Carol Channing gives her blessing to Bette Midler who will revive Channing’s signature role of Dolly Levi in a new production of Hello, Dolly! next year on Broadway.
‘Bette will be brilliant!’ says Channing, who turns 95 at the end of this month.
Channing played the role of Dolly – a widow in her middle years who has decided to begin her life again – more than anyone else. Dolly is a matchmaker, meddler, opportunist, life-loving woman.
‘Dolly is the kind of character that everyone should be blessed to play,’ Channing adds in a statement. ‘Dolly is an institution – the American musical equivalent to Hamlet.’
While it is Channing is most closely identified with it, Dolly was written for Ethel Merman who turned the show down. Mary Martin also turned it down before it was offered to Channing.
Channing took it and ran. She won the Tony Award in 1964 over Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl then took the show on a hugely successful national tour. Channing returned to Broadway as Dolly in 1978 and 1995 revivals of the show.
Midler will begin rehearsals for the revival a year from now with previews set to begin in March 2017.