In 1968, the Tony Awards had an amazing performance. Carol Channing took the stage to announce a show that she made famous as well as one of the first and most talented African American stars of the great white way, Pearl Bailey. If you think about it, an African American revival of Hello Dolly with a black Dolly Levi wouldn’t be shocking now. In 1968 it was a huge surprise and something people were shocked to see. When you think of Hello Dolly, you think of Carol Channing or Barbra Streisand, not a black woman. That is one of the reasons this performance is one of the most Epic Tony Awards performances ever.
Pearl Bailey didn’t miss a moment. To have someone that originated the role, especially someone like Carol Channing announce and pass the torch is amazing. Getting the go ahead and sign off from a legend not only shows how talented and amazing Pearl Bailey is, but this cast tore up the stage beyond belief. The voices, the choreography and the acting was right on par and easily able to be argued better than many of the white casts that had been there before.
1968 was a time of war and protest, racism and hate. To take a white show and add an all black cast was unheard of, unless it was broadway. To gain the support of the theatre community, celebrities like Carol Channing and having an insanely talented person like Pearl Bailey as the lead, they were able to pull it off and make it an epic performance that will be hard to beat. The reason I am posting this is that we had our first Non black or white Miss America crowned recently. Instead of embracing her as an Indian-American and understanding that Americans come in many shades and colors, racists threw out comments, called her a terrorist and absolutely went out of their way to denounce her as a representative of our country.
This cast probably went through a lot of the same things. Luckily the broadway community has always welcomed, loved and supported differences, cultures and embraced everyone from gays to blacks and Jews to Christians. They may make fun of every race and background, but they love them, welcome them and not only put them on stage, but cheer them on, support them and give them awards based on talent, not color. I wish the new Miss America a great start to her title and hope that everyone who reads this post does too.
I went to see Hello Dolly at the Fords Theatre in Washington DC the other night and absolutely loved it. You expect Carol Channing to take the stage or Barbara to sing in her NY accent, but instead of having a lead that you would expect, Broadway Veteran Nancy Opel took on the role of Dolly Levi and absolutely killed it! She was amazing! When you have a show where there are no special effects and just props and place it in a small theatre where the lights are basically always on and you can see the audience, you have to rely on acting and talent. That is exactly what Nancy Opel and the rest of the cast did.
Instead of worrying about having a giant flying gown or flying monkeys, they used their ability to act, sing and dance to take an audience of all ages and make everyone pay attention for the entire show. Some of the best characters were Barnabe or Zack Colonna who was perfect at playing a dumpy but cute dimwit and his facial expressions and presence were amazing. You have Nancy Opel who completely stole the role of Dolly Levi and gave it her own twists and made it unique. One thing she also did was take some of the songs and add in her own drops, notes and belting and it sounded perfect. It’s rare to get the sound working perfectly during an entire show, but somehow they did it and pulled it off so that everyone sounded amazing, no one’s voice took over and the entire cast interacted perfectly with each other vocally. One last mention was the taller dancer. You hit every step and did a great job, but you were showing off a bit to much and sort of took away from the other dancers. You were amazing, but you also ruined the routines by trying to hard and really overdoing it with your hands, arms and lines. You should try to fit in so people don’t keep looking over and so that you don’t ruin the routines which were actually extremely well done. Especially when they are at the restaurant in the end.
When I was a little kid I got to see Hello Dolly with Carol Channing in it. Although I didn’t get most of the show, Carol kept me entertained the entire time. Although Nancy did an amazing job as Dolly, I did notice the kids would get slightly bored, but she did eventually bring them back with the added comedy to the show. If you are thinking about going to see Hello Dolly at Fords Theatre and need tickets, don’t pay full price for them. I was able to find discounts at almost 50% off on tickets to Hello Dolly at the Ford’s Theatre by using one of my advertisers. I included a link in the top right section of this post. Just click on the banner and you’ll go to their site. Enter a new username, create a password and enter your zipcode and you’ll instantly have access to discounts on a ton of tickets including shows at the Kennedy Center, Spamalot at the National Theatre, Miss Saigon at Signature theatre and Discount tickets to Hello Dolly at the Fords Theatre. If you don’t live in DC, they have discount broadway tickets in almost every major city and some smaller cities to so check it out to see if they have your city listed.
A few weeks ago I did a post about working from home and wanting to go out all of the time because you miss being able to talk to people in person during the day. The showtune I played in that post was Out Tonight from Rent because it is all about going out in NYC. Today I am tempted to go out, but I also need to try and get more work done, but instead of thinking about Out Tonight from Rent, I instantly thought of another showtune that’s all about going out in NYC, just from a different time period and definitely a different type of showtune. It is Put on Your Sunday Clothes from Hello Dolly.
Put on Your Sunday Clothes from Hello Dolly is a song that starts with two young guys in Yonkers that are ready to go have a fun night out. Just like in Out Tonight from Rent, the one is trying to convince the other to go out and eventually does. One other thing that is kind of funny is that just like in Out Tonight, there is a second song that mixes in with the first one. In Put on Your Sunday Clothes from Hello Dolly it goes into Dolly singing about going out as well but in a different way since she is wealthy and established. In Rent It is Roger who interrupts with reasons why he shouldn’t go out and about love and why she should leave him alone.
It’s kind of funny how two showtunes from two completely different time periods and casts have the same theme, goal and even combine two songs into each other. Put on Your Sunday Clothes from Hello Dolly is a fun version of a song that is about going out for Summer because it’s all about being sunny, happy and having fun. If you’re going hiking, to a major city or even just going out for a walk, this is one of the perfect showtunes for you to get ready too. You probably aren’t going to be dressing like them or dancing while you’re walking…or singing, but you can get ready to go out while listing to Put on Your Sunday Clothes from Hello Dolly.