Monday, June 17, 2024

Bette Midler Exits “Hello, Dolly!” Today, Cash in Hand: Can the Show Survive Without Her?


Today, Sunday, Bette Midler exits “Hello, Dolly!” after a 10 month run with cash in hand. By various estimates, Bette was taking home more than $100,000 a week for seven performances including vacations.

The Scott Rudin-produced star vehicle averaged $2.3 million a week except for those vacations. There were three big ones, during which the “Hello, Dolly!” box office dipped to well below $1 million–$722K, 879K, and $913K. Even last last week, the numbers fell by $250K when Midler took off a couple of days before her big finale this afternoon.

“Hello, Dolly!” is a big expensive production. Even if with newer, cheaper actors coming in, the train still has to run and the trays at the Harmonia Gardens have to be polished. There’s a big chorus line of dancers who are needed– you can’t stint. The costumes have to be maintained. It’s doubtful that the show can run on a lot less than $1 million a week.

With Midler and David Hyde Pierce leaving during the coldest winter in some time can “Hello, Dolly!” survive? Bernadette Peters is a Broadway star. She has a solid following. She may even get better reviews than Bette Midler. But will that be enough? We all hope so. Victor Garber, also beloved and with a name from movies and TV, may help.

My guess, though, is Dolly may go away again pretty soon as new shows arrive and the Midler effect wears off. That is unless Rudin turns the train into a trolley and the Harmonia Gardens into a diner. And these days you never know.

PS If Peters makes it, and the show stabilizes, the next Dolly must be Queen Latifah. She was made for it. And she’s the right age with a great voice.

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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