Thursday, January 16, 1964: 'Hello, Dolly!'

NEW YORK -- "Hello, Dolly!" is the first clear-cut musical smash of the season and a personal triumph for Carol Channing. Producer David Merrick says it may turn into the biggest hit he's ever had. Playgoers are beseiging the St. James Theater box office, some standing in line two hours or more on 44th Street.
     As staged by Gower Champion, this new musical comedy is a coruscating spectacle, full of gaiety and bounce. The soaring dances he has devised are the best I have ever seen since "West Side Story," although they are entirely different in mood.
     "Hello, Dolly!" was suggested by Thornton Wilder's wonderful farce, "The Matchmaker," and Michael Stewart's book is the best when it sticks closely to the original. Jerry Herman has provided exhilarating music and lyrics.
     Best of all the numbers is the title song and the action built around it. It begins early in the second act when Miss Channing makes her entrance down a red-carpeted staircase that Flo Ziegfeld would have approved. In a red velvet 1890s gown, and a red feathered hat of cartwheel size, she descends the stairs with the undulating rhythm of Lillian Russell. Then, boys and girls, stand back.
     As Dolly Levi, a non-stop matchmaker, Miss Channing's magnetism is tremendous. With her sunburst smile, her wide brown eyes and that specialty quality of hers that says "I like you," she envelops the audience in the warmth of her presence.
     -- Ward Morehouse, syndicated theater columnist, January 29

* Entry from Playbill Vault: @
* Entry from "Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre" (Stanley Green, 1976): @
* Entry from "The Oxford Companion to the American Musical" (Thomas S. Hischak, 2008): @
* Entry from "Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of All Time" (Ken Bloom and Frank Vlastnik, 2010): @
* Call on Dolly ("Hello, Dolly!" website): @  

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