Monday, April 22, 2024

Broadway: “Hello, Dolly!” — With Biggest Box Office Advance of All Time– Not Giving Charity Performance for Actors Fund


Every year, Broadway producers turn over their house one for a charity performance to raise money for the Actors’ Fund. This year three of the four nominated new musicals are doing it– “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Groundhog Day,” and “Come from Away” have all set days in June.

But guess which show is not going to pony up for the Actors Fund? Why, it’s “Hello, Dolly!” touted by press releases as having the biggest advance in history– $40 million– and for breaking every record in the history of Shubert Theaters.

Is it because Horace Vandergelder, the Yonkers half a millionaire, wouldn’t approve? Horace is the fictional character in the musical played by David Hyde Pierce. (I’d say played so well, but I wasn’t offered press seats, so I don’t know.)

Instead of giving the Actors Fund “Dolly,” producer Scott Rudin is throwing them a bone. He’s donating an extra performance of his play, “A Doll’s House, Part 2.” But get this– the performance is at midnight on May 18th. “A Doll’s House” runs 90 minutes without an intermission. So Rudin is making the actors, who finish at 9:30pm, return two hours later and do the show again. The special price is $59.

Has there ever been a midnight show for the Actors Fund? A spokesman for the charity–which is such an important safety net for performers who don’t have a $40 million advance and don’t make $100,000 a week– says there was only one time. That was for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Appropriate.

Those three musicals that doing Actors Fund shows– they’re regularly scheduled shows at 8pm.

As for “Hello, Dolly!”: when I asked, I was told “I’m sure Dolly will [do something for the Actors’ Fund].” Well, maybe they will, now that I’ve asked. Stay tuned…


PS Since the press release went out for the Midnight Performance– and I questioned it– the Actors Fund website now says 11pm. Check with the box office.



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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