Hello, Dolly!

Original London West End Production 1965 with Mary Martin / Dora Bryan

1st London West End Revival 1979 with Carol Channing

2nd London West End Revival 1983 with Danny La Rue

London Revival (Open Air Theatre) 2009 with Samantha Spiro


Musical comedy by Jerry Herman with book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder's play The Matchmaker. Strike up the band, join the parade: New York's glamorous match-maker Dolly Levi is back on the scene and out to make the most significant pairing of her career. Features the songs Put On Your Sunday Clothes, It Only Takes A Moment and the title number Hello, Dolly!

Although the role of Dolly Levi on stage is probably most closely associated with Carol Channing - who played the role on the West End stage for five months in the 1st revival - it is Dora Bryan who has played the role the most times in the West End, some 17 months in the original production.


Original London West End Production 1965 with Mary Martin / Dora Bryan

Previewed 30 November 1965, Opened 2 December 1965, Closed 28 October 1967 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

The original cast featured Mary Martin as 'Mrs Dolly Gallagher Levi' (up to Saturday 14 May 1966) with Loring Smith as 'Horace Vandergelder', Garrett Lewis as 'Cornelius Hackl', Johnny Beecher as 'Barnaby Tucker' and Marilynn Lovell as 'Irene Molly'. Directed and choreographed by Gower Champion with designs by Oliver Smith.

Dora Bryan took over as 'Dolly Levi' from Monday 16 May 1966 and played the role, apart from holiday time-off, up to the end of the run on Saturday 28 October 1967.

The preview on Tuesday 30 November 1965 was Charity Gala held in the presence of The Queen Mother in aid of The Combined Theatrical Charities and the Jerusalem Baby Home and Child Centre. The preview on Wednesday 1 December 1965 was a Charity Gala held in the presence of Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent in aid of the British Heart Foundation. The performance on Monday 6 December 1965 was a Charity Gala held in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II in aid of The Historic Churches Preservation Trust. The performances on Wednesday 8 December 1965 was a Charity Gala held in the presence of Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, and The Earl of Snowdon in aid of the Royal College of Nursing and National Council of Nurses of the United Kingdom. The performance on Thursday 9 December 1965 was a Charity Gala held in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester in aid of the Royal Cambridge Home for Soldiers' Widows. The performance on Thursday 16 December 1965 was a Charity Gala held in the presence of Princess Alexandra and the Honourable Angus Ogilvy in aid of The British Red Cross, County of London Branch.


1st London West End Revival 1979 with Carol Channing

Previewed 21 September 1979, Opened 25 September 1979, Closed 26 January 1980 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Transferred 2 February 1980, Closed 1 March 1980 at the Shaftesbury Theatre

The cast featured Carol Channing as 'Mrs Dolly Gallagher Levi' (who played the role for the entire run) with Eddie Bracken as 'Horace Vandergelder', Tudor Davies as 'Cornelius Hackl', Richard Drabble as 'Barnaby Tucker' and Maureen Scott as 'Irene Molly'. Directed by Lucia Victor and choreographed by Ron Crofoot, based on the original by Gower Champion, with designs by Oliver Smith.


2nd London West End Revival 1983 with Danny La Rue

Previewed 23 December 1983, Opened 3 January 1984, Closed 21 April 1984 at the Prince of Wales Theatre

The cast featured female impersonator Danny La Rue as 'Dolly Levi', Lionel Jefferies as 'Horace Vandergelder' and Lorna Dallas as 'Irene' with Michael Sadler as 'Cornelius',Jeremy Hawk 'Rudolph', Mark Haddigan as 'Barnaby', Pollyann Tanner as 'Minnie', Carol Kaye as 'Ernestina', David Ellen as 'Ambrose', Brendan Barry as 'Judge' and Sue Latimer as 'Ermengarde'. Musical by Michael Stewart with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, based on The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder. Originally directed and choreographed by Gower Champion. Directed by Peter Coe with choreography by David Toguri, designs by Tim Goodchild, lighting by Robert Ornbo and sound by Julian Beech.

"Danny La Rue may know how to wear a dress, but he does not know the first thing about being a woman. And Dolly Levi has, above everything, to be a lovable, slightly pitiable woman - not a walking clothes-horse. Luckily for Mr La Rue it is not a part that demands any dancing, but the one thing it does demand he fails to deliver. Asking him to sing the show-stopping number of the show's title makes as much sense as asking Miss Piggy to understudy Liza Minnelli, quite frankly, the production sinks. And thatís a polite way of putting it. A drag artist never lets you forget that there is a man lurking underneath the plumage. With a part like Dolly, what we should never forget is that the only thing lurking underneath all the fuss and frills is a female with a heart of gold. Miss that and you miss the whole point." The Daily Express

"This spectacular musical revival should be called Hello, Danny! Out-shining every girl is Danny La Rue, female impressionist deluxe. A chap who is every other inch a lady. He looks like an overweight dolly bird, but Danny is obviously a chap with male vocal chords. The music still sounds good and in Lorna Dallas it has a very sweet singer. Hello, Danny! And welcome. May your sequins never dim." The Daily Mirror

"There is unlikely to be any more miserable theatrical travesty this year than the sight and sound of Danny La Rue speaking, singing, and dancing his way through the role of Dolly Levi, a manipulative widow with a yen for an ancient, skinflint man of riches Horace Vandergelder. La Rue's usual act depends upon innuendo, a sort of theatrical nudge to the audience, reminding that a real man lurks beneath his fancy frocks. But here he is obliged to play Dolly straight and instead gives the wilful impression of a drag queen on a rather down night, with nothing but feathers and glitter to cheer... The musical's book, taken from Thornton Wilder's play The Matchmaker, is highly dependent upon two interfused incidents. The first involves Dolly's attempt to snare Horace and his loot, while playing the game of matchmaker; the second depends upon the revolt of Horace's food store employees who make for New York and romance, with his love-stricken daughter not that far behind. But Peter Coe's production has no confidence in the intricacies of this romancing and imposes a laborious, fussy, and sometimes grotesquely simpering routines for choruses and principals alike." The Guardian

Danny La Rue in Hello Dolly in London at the Prince of Wales Theatre previewed from 23 December 1983, opened on 3 January 1984 and closed on 21 April 1984


London Revival (Open Air Theatre) 2009 with Samantha Spiro

Previewed 30 July 2009, Opened 10 August 2009, Closed 12 September 2009 at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park

The cast featured Samantha Spiro as 'Mrs Dolly Gallagher Levi', Allan Corduner as 'Horace Vandergelder', Daniel Crossley as 'Cornelius Hackl', Oliver Brenin as 'Barnaby Tucker' and Josefina Gabrielle as 'Irene Molly'. Directed by Timothy Sheader with choreography by Stephen Mear, designs by Peter McKintosh, lighting by Simon Mills and sound by Mike Walker.

"Timothy Sheader's hugely enjoyable Open Air Theatre revival of Jerry Herman's musical rightly doesn't attempt to impose anything vaguely resembling emotional truth on this spectacularly silly romp of a romcom. You simply go with the farcical flow, dancing to Dolly's tune. Like Herman's score, Dolly is bold and brassy, in a classy way. Samantha Spiro plays her as a pocket dynamo never taking no for an answer... But what Dolly wants, Dolly gets. She's a matchless matchmaker who can couple the most unlikely candidates, such as the glamorous milliner Irene Molloy and the goofy grocer Cornelius Hackl. There are some terrific numbers: Put On Your Sunday Clothes will have your toes tapping, and It Only Takes A Moment will make you think about that split second when you fell in love. Best of all, though, is Stephen Mears' choreography. The cast becomes a steam train, a top hat turns into a chimney, boaters into whirling wheels; but it's the waiters, in red coats, flashing and smashing their silver trays, singing and tap-dancing in the drizzle on a slippery stage, that dazzle and delight." The Mail on Sunday

"In this 1964 musical, Samantha Spiro plays the matchmaking Dolly Levi like an incorrigibly bossy hamster, with round cheeks and a glint in her eye. As well as marrying off the supporting cast, she pitches her scarlet-plumed hat at miserly Horace Vandergelder, whose gift ideas run to a small box of chocolate-covered peanuts (unshelled). The songs are brassy, the choreography roguish and the tap-happy waiters are 'the fastest in New York'. Timothy Sheader's production remains buoyant, even through the opening-night drizzle. The show isn't profound, but it is armour-plated in cheerfulness." The Sunday Times

"Bubbly Samantha Spiro is building a whole new career following in the formidable footsteps of Barbra Streisand... Samantha takes Jerry Herman's famous but generally considered undistinguished musical about matchmaker, busybody and all-round fixer Dolly Levi and breathes into it such vitality it threatens to spill gloriously out of the Park and halfway down Baker Street... The show is given new wings by director Timothy Sheader's polish and exhilarating choreography from Stephen Mear... And Herman's songs, never before performed so rousingly in my experience, are despatched by Ms Spiro and the rest of a super cast with vocal power enough to shake the branches on the surrounding trees. Daniel Crossley, as shopkeeper Vandergelder's hired help, out to find romance in the big city, and Josefina Gabrielle, as the widow milliner at whom he tips his hat, lend fine support to a production that Puts On Its Sunday Clothes no matter what day of the week it may be." The Sun

Hello, Dolly! in London at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park previewed from 30 July 2009, opened on 10 August 2009 and closed on 12 September 2009