Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Hello, Dolly! is a Broadway musical with a book by Michael Stewart and a score by Jerry Herman. It originally opened at the St. James Theater in New York City in 1964 and starred Carol Channing and David Burns. It was a huge critical and commercial success and garnered several Tony Awards, including Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for Channing, whose chief competition had been Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl.
The plot revolves around widowed turn-of-the-century matchmaker Dolly Gallager Levi, who finds her own match, after leading the wealthy would-be groom on a wild goose chase and arranging an alternative suitor for his proposed bride.
Long after Channing left the cast, producer David Merrick kept the show playing to capacity houses by hiring big name stars for the title role, including Ginger Rogers, Martha Raye, Betty Grable, Pearl Bailey (in an all-black version), Ethel Merman - for whom Herman originally wrote his score - and even Phyllis Diller. Mary Martin played the role in London's West End and Japan. However, the role was forever to be identified with Channing, who in later years starred in a Broadway revival and toured extensively in a US national tour.
Streisand got her revenge for losing the Tony to Channing when she was cast as Dolly in the 1969 film. It was directed by Gene Kelly, and the supporting cast included Walter Matthau, Michael Crawford, Marianne McAndrew , Danny Lockin , E.J. Peaker , Tommy Tune, and Fritz Feld.
It won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction, Best Music, Score of a Musical Picture (Original or Adaptation), and Best Sound. It also was nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Picture.
All the Oscar attention was surprising in light of the fact the film was a critical and commercial failure. Streisand was far too young for the role, and her performance fluctuated between Jewish yenta and Mae West. (Notably, Dolly's maiden name - the very Irish "Gallagher" - was never mentioned in the film.) She and Matthau despised each other, and their lack of chemistry - and huge age difference - were obvious. In Kelly's hands, what had been a fairly intimate musical on stage became an overblown spectacle on the screen.
The subject for Hello, Dolly! originated in the play Einen Jux will er sich machen (1842) by Austrian playwright Johann Nestroy. (An English translation, entitled On the Razzle, was produced in London in the 1980s.) This was adapted by Thornton Wilder for his play The Matchmaker, which was produced on Broadway by David Merrick and then made into a 1958 film of the same name, directed by Joseph Anthony and starring Shirley Booth, Anthony Perkins, Shirley MacLaine, Paul Ford, and Robert Morse.
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