Thanksgiving Memory: My Debut On The Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade

Wow, talk about #ThrowBackThursday!

I can’t believe how time goes by. Twenty-three years ago today, I made my Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade debut with the 1995 Broadway revival cast of Hello, Dolly! (including the incomparable Tony Award-winner herself, Carol Channing)!

I remember this like it was yesterday. We all had to get up waaaaaaaay early, get down to the Lunt-Fontanne Theater where we were playing to get into costume, then get on a bus to ride about 10 blocks down Broadway to sit in a trailer before we headed out to do “Before The Parade Passes By.”

And it was so cold! You’d never know to look at Carol, though. And what a thrill to be on the most famous and watched parade with the world.

I then headed to home on the Upper West Side for a most fab dinner with (then boyfriend, now husband) Michael and my bestie, Carlye.

During dinner the phone rang, and it was Vanessa Williams calling from the West Coast to say “Happy Thanksgiving!” – and since she was watching the parade in California – “you look like you’re freezing!” LOL

I still love my Broadway Dolly! family all these years later. What a great memory to find this video today.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Bette Midler Will Return To HELLO, DOLLY! For Final 6 Weeks On Broadway

Bette Midler in "Hello, Dolly!" on Broadway
Bette Midler in “Hello, Dolly!” on Broadway

The Associated Press is reporting that when Bette Midler sang “So Long Dearie” to her blockbuster Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! she really meant “See you in a while” as producers have announced that the Tony Award-winner will return for a six-week run before the production closes August 25.

Bernadette Peters, who took up the mantle of “Dolly Levi” after Bette departed in January will continue in the role until July 15. The Divine Miss M will be “back where she belongs” beginning July 17.

Additionally, co-stars David Hyde Pierce and Gavin Creel back as well.

Creel wan the Tony Award for “Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical” for his performance as “Cornelius Hackl,” and Pierce earned a Tony nod as “Horace Vandergelder.”

We won’t be saying goodbye to Dolly any time soon though.

Fans eagerly await the first national tour of “Hello, Dolly!” which will star Tony Award-winner Betty Buckley when it kicks off in October at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio.

Bernadette Peters To Succeed Bette Midler In Broadway’s “Hello, Dolly!”

Bernadette Peters

Two-time Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters will succeed Bette Midler as “Dolly Levi” in the blockbuster Broadway revival of Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly!

Additionally, Broadway favorite Victor Garber will replace David Hyde Pierce as “Horace Vandergelder.”

From Variety:

The casting, which had been the subject of persistent rumors in the theater industry, was seemingly confirmed Tuesday morning in a social media post, now removed, that said that Peters and Victor Garber would join the cast early next year. By Tuesday evening, the producers of “Hello, Dolly!,” led by Scott Rudin, had confirmed that Peters would step into the role. Garber, who would presumably replace Midler’s co-star David Hyde Pierce, was not mentioned in the confirmation.

The question of who would replace Bette Midler in “Dolly!,” one of the top-selling shows on Broadway, has been a hot topic of speculation this summer. In the theater-industry rumor mill, a slew of names made the rounds — including Dolly Parton and Sutton Foster — but by August, Peters, last on Broadway in the 2011 production of “Follies,” began to look like the frontrunner. At the time, the comment from Scott Rudin, the show’s lead producer, was the coy, “There’s no replacement for Bette.”

But earlier on Tuesday, Garber’s husband, Rainer Andreesen, mentioned the “Dolly” casting in a comment on an Instagram post. That post has since been removed, but a screenshot remains.

Like Donna Murphy, who currently plays the role of Dolly for one performance a week, Peters and Garber are fan favorites among theater lovers. Peters, who’s won two Tony Awards, has starred in a string of notable productions, including the original stagings of “Sunday in the Park With George” and “Into the Woods,” while Garber, who stars in CW series “Legends of Tomorrow,” has appeared in Broadway shows including “Deathtrap,” “Noises Off” and, most recently, “Present Laughter” in 2010.

In terms of box office impact, Midler, who’s kept sales in the stratosphere since the show began performances in the spring, will be a tough act to follow. It’s uncertain that Peters would keep weekly grosses as high, but at the very least she’d get an initial boost from theater avids anxious to see her in the role. The revival, one of the last season’s biggest buzzmagnets, also seems likely to benefit from the momentum built up for the title itself over the course of its big-money run.

Peters begins her run in “Hello, Dolly!” Jan. 20 prior to an opening night set for Feb. 22. Midler plays her final performance in “Dolly!” Jan. 14; there will be no performances between then and Peters’ start date.

Two-time Tony Award winner Donna Murphy, who performs the role of “Dolly Levi” at select performances including all Tuesdays to rave reviews, will take her last trip down the Harmonia Gardens staircase on January 9, 2018.

Peters will reportedly be performing all 8 performances a week.

My 2017 Tony Awards Recap

I enjoyed last night’s Tony Awards broadcast muchly.

For one thing, rather than one of those year’s where one show dominates heavily (Hamilton, Chicago, The Producers), for the most part the Tony voters seemed happy to share the wealth among several productions. And I like that. The Tonys are, in great part, a marketing tool to help shows run, and when everyone is acknowledged for excellent work, the entire theater community wins.

All in all, I agreed with just about every winner (I hate using that word) in each category.

Other random thoughts:

• It’s ridiculous that the Choreographer category isn’t presented during the telecast. I won’t qualify artistic contributions among team mates, but the choreographer (the most physically demanding position on a creative team) creates highly complex storytelling without the use of spoken language. The number from Andy Blankenbuehler’s Bandstand was easily a standout among all the numbers featured last night. Also, look at the popularity of dance today across the country (So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars). There’s intense interest in the art form.

For those who didn’t see Andy’s acceptance speech:

Check out Dr. Jill Biden (huge standing ovation) introducing “Nobody” from Bandstand. This is excellent choreography 🙂

• Whether it was Bette Midler demurring or producer Scott Rudin not wanting to “give away the goods,” it was a shame there was no production number from this year’s biggest hit,  Hello, Dolly!

• While I miss seeing excerpts from the nominated plays, I did enjoy seeing the playwrights introduced and being allowed to speak about their shows.

• The In Memoriam was handled with taste and grace. Thank you.

• The two most memorable speeches (vastly different in tone) were:

Ben Platt winning “Best Actor in a Musical” for Dear Evan Hansen – “To all young people watching at home, don’t waste any time trying to be like anybody but yourself. The things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”

And Bette Midler’s four minute filibuster (“Shut that crap off!”) for “Best Actress in a Musical” for Hello, Dolly!:

• Kevin Spacey did a good job as host. Brilliant? Maybe not, but he was solid and brings aesthetic weight to the stage. I wasn’t a huge fan of the impersonation schtick, but I know there were producers and writers making a lot of those decisions, so… Much is being made about his “in the closet” jokes. On one hand folks seem to be of the opinion he’s basically out to everyone but the masses, so he should be be out; on the other hand, he’s dealt with the rumors for years and if he wants to joke about them, whatever.

Ratings? From BroadwayWorld.com:

According to The Hollywood Reporter, ratings for this year’s telecast were down 31 percent from last year’s show. According to Nielsen overnight returns, the telecast averaged a 4.7 rating among metered market households, almost tying for the Tony broadcast from five years ago. The numbers appear to be strong enough to top NBC’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals, although they may fall short of winning in the Adult 18-49 demo.

In comparison, the 2016 TONY AWARDS reached a 15-year viewership high, averaging a 6.8 rating among households in overnight returns, ultimately delivering 8.7 million viewers and a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49.

Click here to see many of the performances and acceptance speeches.

Here’s the full list of the artists who took home awards last night:

Best musical: “Dear Evan Hansen”

Best play: “Oslo”

Best revival of a play: “August Wilson’s Jitney”

Best revival of a musical: “Hello, Dolly!”

Best book of a musical: “Dear Evan Hansen,” Steven Levenson

Best original score (music and/or lyrics) written for the theater: “Dear Evan Hansen,” Music and lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul

Tony Awards 2017: Highlights, winners and best moments
Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical: Ben Platt, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical: Bette Midler, “Hello, Dolly!”

Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play: Kevin Kline, “Present Laughter”

Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a play: Laurie Metcalf, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play: Michael Aronov, “Oslo”

Best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play: Cynthia Nixon, “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes”

Best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical: Gavin Creel, “Hello, Dolly!”

Best performance by an actress in a featured role in a musical: Rachel Bay Jones, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Best scenic design of a play: Nigel Hook, “The Play That Goes Wrong”

Best scenic design of a musical: Mimi Lien, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Best costume design of a play: Jane Greenwood, “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes”

Best costume design of a musical: Santo Loquasto, “Hello, Dolly!”

Best lighting design of a play: Christopher Akerlind, “Indecent”

Best lighting design of a musical: Bradley King, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Best direction of a play: Rebecca Taichman, “Indecent”

Best direction of a musical: Christopher Ashley, “Come From Away”

Best choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler, “Bandstand”

Best orchestrations: Alex Lacamoire, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Special Tony Award for lifetime achievement in the theatre: James Earl Jones

Special Tony Award: Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, sound designers for “The Encounter”

Regional theatre Tony Award: Dallas Theater Center in Dallas, Texas

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award: Baayork Lee

Tony honors for excellence in theater: Nina Lannan and Alan Wasser

News Round-Up: April 20, 2017

Some news items you may have missed:

• Jerry Herman’s classic Broadway musical Hello, Dolly! returns to the Great White Way tonight at the Shubert Theatre in a brand new revival starring a reportedly delicious Bette Midler. I made my Broadway debut in the last revival back in 1995 (I’m on the far left above) when Carol Channing made a spectacular return to the role of “Dolly Levi.” Wishing this new cast all the best for a fantastic run!

• TIME Magazine names Gavin Grimm, Sarah Paulson and RuPaul to this year’s “100 Most Influential People” list.

• Adam Medrano, the council member who chairs City Hall’s LGBT Task Force, has made LGBT youth homelessness a top priority. His leadership has led to the creation of Outlast Youth, a collaborative effort intent on finding beds, counseling, health care and job training for homeless LGBT youth.

• On the other end of the spectrum in Texas news, Governor Abbott says he wants to sign a transgender “bathroom bill.”

• Turning this year’s Pride Parade in Los Angeles into an anti-Trump march is making it tough to attract the event’s usual sponsors.

• CNN spoke to to two men who describe being detained, beaten and tortured in Chechnya as part of the country’s violent crackdown on homosexuality. Watch below:

Podcast: Celebrating The Return Of HELLO, DOLLY! To Broadway



Hello, Dolly! is back on Broadway in a brand new, luscious revival starring the effervescent Bette Midler.

In this episode of The Randy Report podcast, I share some history of the classic Broadway blockbuster including how some songs were once cut, and then, restored to the show.

Who knows the songs “Penny In My Pocket,” “Love, Look In My Window,” and “World Take Me Back?” All were once cut from Dolly – guess which one is back in the new revival?

BONUS >>>Listen in as I share Tony Award winner Leslie Uggams’ performance of one of those “trunk songs,” delivered in spectacular fashion, from when she wore the “red dress” in a major production of Hello, Dolly!

First Look: Bette Midler in HELLO, DOLLY!

Bette Midler as “Dolly Levi” (Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

First look at Bette Midler’s star turn in the upcoming Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!

The new production, set to open at the Shubert Theater April 20, begins previews tomorrow night. Already box office record have been broken in anticipation of the divine Miss M’s debut as the irascible matchmaker.

From BroadwayWorld.com:

The upcoming revival of Michael Stewart and Jerry Herman’s masterpiece Hello, Dolly!, starring legendary performer Bette Midler, has quickly become the hottest ticket of the year. Directed by four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle.

This Hello, Dolly!, the first new production of this classic musical (based on Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker) to appear on Broadway since it opened more than fifty years ago, will pay tribute to the original work of legendary director/ choreographer Gower Champion, which has been hailed both then and now as one of the greatest stagings in musical theater history.

As regular Randy Report readers may know, I made my Broadway debut in the last revival of Dolly! with original Tony Award winning star Carol Channing in 1995. I staged the national tour of the production after we closed on Broadway, and at least 10 times since then. I’m still in love with the show.

Wishing everyone at the Shubert Theater a wondermous run with the show.

“Hello, Dolly!” At Sacramento Music Circus

Lynne Wintersteller stars as “Dolly Levi” in HELLO, DOLLY! at Sacramento Music Circus

These past few weeks I’ve been working at Sacramento Music Circus, one of the premier professional summer theaters in the country, handling the choreographer duties for Hello, Dolly! starring the luminous Lynne Wintersteller.

This is my fourth season at SMC, and my second collaboration with the organization’s Artistic Director, Glenn Casale.

The process of assembling this fab team was really about as smooth as you can get. The principals are all top notch New York City based actors, and the dancers (my primary connection) were a dream. The day after I would give notes, you could see the info digested, processed and applied. Everything just kept getting better.

As a choreographer my biggest challenge was taking my 20 years of experience with Hello, Dolly!, utilizing primarily the original choreographic ideas of the great Gower Champion, and adapting those intentions into a production that plays in the round. Also, while I adhere to the Champion style, I did create new steps in several sections to further the storytelling.

For example, a few of the sections of the “Waiters Gallop” are completely brand new because I really wanted to focus on what the text says about the waiters of the Harmonia Gardens restaurant – that they are “the fastest waiters in New York.” Often, the “Gallop” gets treated a bit like “circus” tricks for no reason other than to be athletic or showy. I wanted every section to hone in on the idea of speed and skill.

Also, most productions switch out lots of props during the 7 sections of the “Waiters Gallop.” But when doing Dolly in the round, offstage prop tables would be located up the 100+ feet aisles. There was no time to run the male dancers up and down the aisles. So, I went back to the foundation of what we were trying to communicate and, using Gower Champion’s style and vocabulary, built new sections with the emphasis on true dancing.

For more info head over to Sacramento Music Circus’ website. If you really want a terrific all-American way to start your 4th of July weekend, this is really the ticket.

Here’s a bit of what the critics said:

From the Davis Enterprise: “With direction by Glenn Casale, choreography by Randy Slovacek and costumes by Marcy Froehlich, this production is just stunning. Each of Dolly’s musical numbers is a show-stopper, perhaps most of all “Before the Parade Passes By,” an amazingly choreographed number that ends Act 1. The dancing of the six waiters in the Waiters’ Gallop is stunning and when Dolly makes her entrance to the title song, well … you know you are seeing classic theater.”

From Sacramento Press: “Among the musical highlights are the songs “Before the Parade Passes By,” “It Only Takes a Moment” and, of course, the title tune. Several dance set pieces are outstanding, especially “Elegance” and “The Waiters’ Gallop,” which features some pretty amazing coordination. The choreography is by Randy Slovacek and the striking costumes are by Marcy Froehlich. Glenn Casale, who in his 20 years with Music Circus and Broadway Sacramento has directed more than 50 productions, creates joy in bringing this delightful show to life. His direction is perfection.”

From Sacramento365.com: “While
the choreography and staging was exemplary throughout, the performances
of “The Waiters Gallop,” and “Hello, Dolly!” were my favorites. As the
cast sings and dances across the stage, the members of the audience
around me lit up with excitement and cheer. When a production has the
power to do this you know it’s a great show. I can’t recommend Music
Circus’ production of Hello, Dolly! enough.”

From BroadwayWorld: “Glenn Casale’s direction and Craig Barna’s musical direction hit a sweet spot with an ensemble whose vocals blend beautifully and an outstanding orchestra. Inventive choreographer Randy Slovacek also takes full advantage of the athletic cast and the Music Circus aisles and round stage in routines that ultimately steal the spotlight in a lively and enthusiastic production.”

From the Sacramento Bee: “The Music Circus at its best – as it is with the current “Hello Dolly!” – casts a warming glow. A title as venerable and familiar as “Dolly!” feels known, but what sure-handed director Glenn Casale’s lustrous production accomplishes is not reinvent the classic but reveal its greatness.”

Here’s some production photos (click pics to enlarge) and a video montage of the show. You can see some of my work there in “Put On Your Sunday Clothes,” “Dancing,” “Before The Parade Passes By,” “The Waiters Gallop,” and the title tune “Hello Dolly.”

“Before the Parade Passes By”

“Put On Your Sunday Clothes”

“It Takes A Woman”

Dolly Levi and her boys

Jacquelyn Piro Donovan as “Irene Molloy”

John Scherer as “Cornelius”

Jordan Grubb as “Barnaby”

Bette & Carol: The Original “Dolly” Meets Broadway’s Newest “Dolly”

Broadway World has the details on the meeting of two icons:

Broadway’s newest Dolly Gallagher Levi met the classic original last week, as the fabulous Bette Midler was introduced to the legendary Carol Channing.

Channing, who is now 95, took Broadway by storm and got a Tony Award, too, when she opened in the original 1964 production of Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s HELLO, DOLLY!, a musical version of Thornton Wilder’s THE MATCHMAKER.

Bette Midler stars in the upcoming Broadway revival, which begins previewing March 15, 2017, with an official opening night of April 20, 2017. Four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks directs and Tony Award winner David Hyde Pierce joins Midler as leading man Horace Vandergelder.

Bette Midler To Star In 2017 Broadway Revival Of Hello, Dolly!

I’m thrilled to read that the fabulous Bette Midler will return to the Broadway stage next year in a new revival of Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly!

Playbill has the announcement:

Stage and screen star Bette Midler has announced that she will play Dolly Gallagher Levi in a Broadway revival of the blockbuster 1964 musical, Hello, Dolly!

Four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks will direct, and Tony winner Warren Carlyle will choreograph the production, which will begin Broadway previews March 13, 2017, and open April 20 at a theatre to be announced.

Midler issued a statement saying, “I am looking forward to portraying one of the most beloved characters in all of American Musical Comedy, Dolly Levi, born Gallagher, in Hello, Dolly! I know I’m going to have the time of my life, and I am so glad to be under the wings of Scott Rudin as Producer and Jerry Zaks as Director. See you next year!”

Composer/lyricist Jerry Herman said, “Many times through the years I’ve been asked about bringing back Hello, Dolly! – and it has always been, ‘Who would be my dream Dolly?’ – and though I’ve had literally dozens of names tossed at me, I knew that we needed more than just a wonderful singer or a wonderful actor, so I held on to the hope that she would also be a distinctly original persona. Who is out there that has the necessary stature, warmth, the incredible talent and ability, and especially the singular, out-sized personality that I was looking for in a 21st century Dolly? Only one person: Bette Midler. Only Bette could bring Dolly brilliantly back to ‘the lights of 14th Street!'”

“There has not been a new production in 50 years,” Rudin told The Associated Press. “Partly it was the difficulty of who could play Dolly. It had to be someone who could take it to a different level. Bette is the only one who can. Never has there been something more inevitable than her in this role.”

I made my Broadway debut in 1995 in the last revival, which starred Tony Award-winner (and original “Dolly Levi”) Carol Channing, and it was truly a gift to be a part of.

A few years ago, when Tony Award winners Patti Lupone and director Jack O’Brien were in talks to bring the show back to Broadway, I was asked by Jerry Herman himself to choreograph the production. Unfortunately, Lupone and O’Brien had some artistic differences and the production never came to fruition. For several months, I spoke with the producer attached to the project at the time and certainly Bette was on the top of our list.

I wish the new endeavor only the best.