You are probably sick of seeing me post about Bernadette Peters and Hello, Dolly! for the last week. But, here’s a blog post anyway about this incredible buildup to my idol returning in what is arguably my favorite musical on Broadway right now.
It’s funny because in 2011 I posted a comment on Facebook in relation to a news article that Bernadette Peters and Martin Short would return to the stage again in a revival of I Do! I Do! I said, “how about Hello, Dolly! instead?” Yes, I predicted this 6 years too early. Crazy.
Anyway, it was in September when I was going to see Hello, Dolly! for the first time with Donna Murphy (I already saw Bette Midler in May) when I got the email that Bernadette would be succeeding the Divine Miss M. I couldn’t believe it and was literally shaking with excitment!
Fast forward months later, I was afforded the opportunity to interview Victor Garber for Entertainment Tonight while he was preparing to take over for David Hyde Pierce. (I also interviewed Donna Murphy about her role in the show last year).
When he called me, I answered the phone by saying, “Hello Hell?” It’s a line he said in Damn Yankees in 1994 – and yes I saw him in the part. I was excited to put his interview to print. I knew it was going up in the week leading to Victor and Bernadette’s first performance together. Meanwhile, I had also been teasing a big exclusive piece I had with the first look at Bernadette in costume. To think – my editor and I would be the first two people to see this photo everyone went insane about! The article and photo came out around 5:30 Friday night. It was an exciting two days!
On Saturday, I went to see the first preview performance. It’s interesting to note that Bernadette and Steve Martin had shows playing (for only 2 days since Meteor Shower closes today) at the same time in Shubert Alley. Remember – they used to date. As soon as I walked into the theater, I literally bumped into Joel Grey. Or did he bump into me? Anyway, I spoke to him briefly before he took his seat. Can you believe it’s been 50 years since they starred in George M. together?
In front of him was Bernadette’s publicist. On the opposite side of the orchestra was Bernadette’s assistant. I spotted Director Jerry Zaks at the back of the house. There was thunderous applause as soon as the overture began. Less than a minute into the show there was a standing ovation for Bernadette Peters after her very first line. There would be a few more standing ovations. I think 2—but I lost count. The joy that resonated in the theater was incredible. Every one there was excited to see her in the role. I loved watching two men in the front row jumping up and down with so much energy.
Here’s to opening night on February 22nd!
P.S. – If you haven’t seen this article yet. My mom whipped this out for me from her scrapbook a few weeks ago. It’s the actual article from The New York Times dated 1969 (49 years ago!) about Bernadette living in Queens and commuting to the theater district to perform. It’s an incredible read.