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Theatre / Hello, Dolly!

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Sullivan: Where to, Dolly?
Dolly Levi: Yonkers, New York, to handle a highly personal matter for Mr. Horace Vandergelder, the well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire.
Sullivan: Gonna marry him yourself, Dolly?
Dolly Levi: Why, Mr. Sullivan, what ever put such a preposterous idea into my head, your head!

This famous 1964 musical, adapted from a Thornton Wilder play, The Matchmaker (itself based on an Austrian play, Einen Jux will er sich machen, which was in turn based on an earlier English play, A Day Well-spent), tells the tale of matchmaker and zany manipulator Dolly Levi (originally played by Carol Channing on Broadway). It's the turn of the 20th century in New York City, and after years of making matches for others she's out to make one for herself with the above-mentioned merchant Horace Vandergelder. In the process of doing so, she helps three other couples get together.

In 1969 it became The Movie starring Barbra Streisand as Dolly, becoming one of her best-known roles. Modern audiences, however, will probably recognize footage from the movie due to its use in the Pixar film WALL•E. This movie is notable for being the first major motion picture to see release on the VHS format.


Hello, Dolly! provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Jewish: Dolly Levi is an interesting case, as she is played by Barbra Streisand in the film, and the character in the play is presumably Irish-American (her maiden name is Gallagher) and intermarried, but in both cases speaks with a "Yiddish" rhythm and is a good fit for the stereotypical matchmaker of Jewish humor (compare her with Yente of Fiddler on the Roof).
  • Audience Monologue: The stage musical contains several, mainly holdovers from The Matchmaker, where they were used even more extensively. For the most part, they were excised from the movie version.
  • Black Widow: Dolly paints Irene Molloy as one of these to plant doubts in Horace's head.
  • Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: Horace.
  • Catchphrase: Barnaby's "Holy cabooses!"
  • Control Freak: Dolly, by her own admission.
  • Advertisement:
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Horace Vandergelder is a Self-Made Man who believes the only way to make a living is to "sell things people need," and Ambrose is a painter, something he finds frivolous and useless. Naturally, Ermengarde wants to marry Ambrose.
  • Determinator: Dolly Levi is going to marry Horace Vandergelder and nothing is going to stop her!
  • Dumb Blonde: In the film, Minnie is portrayed as a blonde to Irene's brunette, and Irene comes across as much more silly and ditzy.
  • Epic Rocking: "Hello, Dolly!" is a unique example: it's a medium-slow number with simple music, repetitive lyrics, and basic choreography. And yet, through pure charm, it stops the show every time. Also the last jazz song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart, when it was full of The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five.
  • Everybody Knew Already: In the movie, after Cornelius admits to Irene that he doesn't have nearly as much wealth or worldliness as Dolly boasted he did, Irene admits that she and Minnie already figured that.
  • Everything Has Rhythm: the opening.
  • Excited Show Title!: Hello, Dolly!
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Not counting the distant epilogue, the story takes place in little more than a day.
  • Feet-First Introduction: In the film.
  • Final Love Duet: "It Only Takes a Moment."
  • The Gay '90s
  • Gold Digger:
    • In the film, Irene and Minnie pretend to be this in order to tease Cornelius and Barnaby about pretending to be wealthy. When Cornelius finally fesses up, they admit that they knew all along, and planned to pay for the fancy dinner they weaseled out of them from the start.
    • Dolly is a strangely altruistic version. She outright admits she wants to marry Horace for his money. She does want to enjoy the perks of wealth but she also hopes to spread the wealth around.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Ambrose and Ermengarde in the film, played by 6-foot-7 Tommy Tune and the rather petite Joyce Ames.
  • Hypocrite: Right after denying his niece the choice to marry who she wants, Horace Vandergelde intends to head into town to propose to a lady of his own choosing.
  • "I Am" Song: "I Put My Hand In." Also, from the movie, "Just Leave Everything to Me."
  • "I Want" Song: "Ribbons Down My Back" (Irene) and "Before the Parade Passes By" (Dolly).
  • Last Chorus Slow-Down: The title song. Twice.
  • Long Runner:
    • The original production ran for 2844 performances and was briefly the longest running Broadway musical ever.
    • Likewise, Carol Channing's performance in the lead role. She claims to have played the role over 5000 times, having created the role in the original production and performing in revivals and tours for the next thirty years.
  • Marry for Love: What Irene wants. Also, despite having Gold Digger intentions, Dolly asks Horace if he would love her as an equal.
  • Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: "It Takes a Woman," "Put on Your Sunday Clothes," "It Only Takes a Moment."
  • The Matchmaker: Dolly.
  • Misspelling Out Loud: "It Takes a Woman."
    Three cheers for femininity
    Rah rah rah ... rah rah rah
    F. E. M. - I. T. Y.
  • Mock Millionaire: Cornelius and Barnaby pretend to be wealthy gentlemen to gain the attention of Irene and Minnie.
  • Movie Bonus Song: "Just Leave Everything To Me" and "Love Is Only Love."
  • My Card: Dolly, at every possible opportunity. Lampshaded every time (until the last one) by the card receiver reading theirs out loud, where Dolly is described as performing exactly the task they need done.
    Cornelius: "Dolly Levi: 33-year-old head clerks taught to dance."
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Michael Crawford in the film, constantly. The casting department probably figured it could pass for a nonspecific New England accent, but he still sounds downright Cockney in some spots.
  • Opening Chorus: "Call on Dolly."
  • Paying for the Action Scene: After the big Harmonia Gardens scene, Dolly tells the staff to put the bill for all the damages incurred on the tab of Vandergelder's Hay and Feed.
  • The Plan: The entire play.
  • Playing Gertrude: In the movie, 25-year-old Barbra Streisand plays middle-aged Dolly.
  • Race Lift: After the original Broadway production had run for a few years, the entire cast was replaced by an all-black company headed by Pearl Bailey as Dolly and Cab Calloway as Vandergelder. By all accounts, this was a great success, reviving slowed ticket sales. Bailey won a Special Tony Award for her performance.
  • Self-Made Man: Horace Vandergelder.
  • Small Start Big Finish: "Before the Parade Passes By" and the title song.
  • Talking to the Dead: Dolly addresses her dead husband, Ephram, and asks him to give her a sign of his consent for her to marry Horace.
  • Title Drop: The title song, of course. In fact, the show was named after the song, not the other way around. The original title was Dolly, a Damned Exasperating Woman, but when producer David Merrick heard Louis Armstrong's recording of "Hello, Dolly!", he liked it so much that he changed the name. The original title gets its own Title Drop in a line by Horace Vandergelder.
  • Widow Woman: Dolly Levi, whose lingering connections, friendships, and independent income from her marriage to her late husband put her in an interesting place in society.

Alternative Title(s): Hello Dolly


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