Thursday, April 18, 2024

Broadway: “Hello, Dolly!” Breaks All Time Shubert Theater Records– Should It Get a Tony Award Or Is Money the Reward?


Big announcement this morning: “Hello, Dolly!” with Bette Midler has broken the all time sales record for all Shubert Theaters in history and in the future, and for years to come. With a staggering $40 million advance, and premium ticket prices that are obscene, ne, grotesque–$525 at least– this version of “Hello, Dolly!” has transcended theater. It’s a beast.

The new record? They made $2.1 million in seven performances. Not 8, which is the Broadway norm. Just 7. And Bette Midler’s getting at least $100,000 a week to make that happen. Not bad!

And so the question becomes: does “Hello, Dolly!” deserve a Tony Award? Or is money the reward for this boondoggle? In the world of the Oscars, a movie this big would be considered a “studio” film or blockbuster. Think “Avatar” or “The Dark Knight.” Those movies generally do not get Oscars. Sometimes they get nominations. And a really great performance, like Heath Ledger’s, may be cited. But Best Picture? Never. Those nods go to humbler endeavors.

For “Hello, Dolly!” to win the Tony for Best Revival of A Musical seems overkill at this point. Wouldn’t it be better to give the gold statue to Lincoln Center for “Falsettos”? Or to “Miss Saigon” just for the helicopter and chutzpah? Something about this “Hello, Dolly!” avarice is unseemly. And it encourages future bloated money grabs. Broadway was never supposed to be this overt in pure greed.

PS And what happens when Bette Midler leaves? Eventually, she will. My choice: Queen Latifah. No kidding. Stay tuned…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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