A New Dolly Stars as National Tour Marches into the Bushnell
One really has no choice but to admire the resilience shown by the musical that is Hello Dolly. The show always manages to stage a come-back (pun fully intended). The most recent of these comebacks was the Broadway revival back in 2017 – then starring Bette Midler. This then became Bernadette Peters. The Hello, Dolly! tour, however, began with Betty Buckley in the titular role. This was back in 2018.
In September of this year, leading roles in the tour were recast, bringing in 16 new actors and actresses – overhauling nearly half of the cast. Since this change in casting, the tour has had four stops, with the fourth currently ongoing from the 12th to the 17th of November in Hartford, with Jerry Zaks as the director.
The musical will then make a stop at The Bushnell, where Carolee Carmello will take up the beloved character of Dolly Levi, matchmaker extraordinaire. With this development, Carolee joins the parade of amazing women who have assumed the role. These women include the original Dolly Levi, Carol Channing, who played in the 1964 premiere of the musical. Others include the one and only Barbra Streisand who starred in the 1969 movie adaptation, and Pearl Bailey who played Dolly in the Broadway revival back in 1975.
Carmello acknowledges the women who have taken up the role before her, seeing it as a ‘responsibility.’ She has enjoyed an enormous response and a lot of enthusiasm from her audiences. Carmello has had parts in several shows including the Sister Act, The Addams Family, Mama Mia and City of Angels, to name a few.
She has not a national tour in quite a while, or ever played Dolly before. She says the going has been great, regardless. Carmello terms the role of Dolly as ‘deeper’ and ‘more nuanced’ than it would seem. “I had an image of this as fun-loving, over the top, larger than life. But Dolly has these monologues that show this authentic, vulnerable person inside her. It was surprising to me at first. Dolly has real needs, real hopes. There’s sadness to her”, she says. The six costume changes she gets are delightful to her, calling Dolly a very good dresser.