Bernadette Peters Will Replace Bette Midler in ‘Hello, Dolly!’ on Broadway

Bernadette Peters
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UPDATED: Bernadette Peters is Broadway’s new Dolly, with the theater-world fan favorite now confirmed to lead the cast of the mega-selling, Tony-winning revival of “Hello, Dolly!” in January.

The casting, which had been the subject of persistent rumors in the theater industry, was seemingly confirmed Aug. 5 in a social media post, now removed, that said that Peters and Victor Garber would join the cast early next year. By that evening, the producers of “Hello, Dolly!,” led by Scott Rudin, had confirmed that Peters would step into the role. Garber, who would replace Midler’s co-star David Hyde Pierce, was confirmed the next morning.

The question of who would replace Bette Midler in “Dolly!,” one of the top-selling shows on Broadway, has been a hot topic of speculation this summer. In the theater-industry rumor mill, a slew of names made the rounds — including Dolly Parton and Sutton Foster — but by August, Peters, last on Broadway in the 2011 production of “Follies,”  began to look like the frontrunner. At the time, Rudin commented with the coy, “There’s no replacement for Bette.”

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But over the Labor Day weekend, Garber’s husband, Rainer Andreesen, mentioned the “Dolly” casting in a comment on an Instagram post. That post has since been removed, but a screenshot remains.

Like Donna Murphy, who currently plays the role of Dolly for one performance a week, Peters and Garber are fan favorites among theater lovers. Peters, who’s won two Tony Awards, has starred in a string of notable productions, including the original stagings of “Sunday in the Park With George” and “Into the Woods,” while Garber, who stars in CW series “Legends of Tomorrow,” has appeared in Broadway shows including “Deathtrap,” “Noises Off” and, most recently, “Present Laughter” in 2010.

In terms of box office impact, Midler, who’s kept sales in the stratosphere since the show began performances in the spring, will be a tough act to follow. It’s uncertain that Peters would keep weekly grosses as high, but at the very least she’d get an initial boost from theater avids anxious to see her in the role. The revival, one of the last season’s biggest buzzmagnets, also seems likely to benefit from the momentum built up for the title itself over the course of its big-money run.

Peters and Garber begin their run in “Hello, Dolly!” Jan. 20 prior to an opening night set for Feb. 22. Midler and Pierce play their final performance in “Dolly!” Jan. 14; there will be no performances between then and Peters’ start date.

 

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  1. David says:

    Just bought my Front Row Center seat for THE Bernadette Peters! WOW!

  2. Paul M says:

    An uninspired casting decision. She might be extremely talented, but nobody outside of New York knows who Peters is, especially anyone under the age of 40. Tourists will stay away in droves, and the show will close within 6 weeks of her debut in Dolly.

  3. cowgirldiva says:

    LOVE Bernadette Peters….she’s a seasoned veteran and very talented…!! She’ll do a great job..!!

  4. Stan Gary says:

    Should have been Donna Murphy!!! She’s earned it!!!!

  5. MovieBill says:

    i agree. to keep it going, they need stars that shine a bit brighter than (no matter how excellent) the established NY pool of leading ladies. they did it after Carol Channing left in the 60s. i could see Cher, Parton, Goldie Hawn, even Diane Keaton, Kathy Bates, Meryl Streep or Michelle Pfieffer.

  6. Bill B. says:

    Peters is talented, but the box office will plummet. There is no replacement for Midler, but if anyone could come close in this larger than life role, it would be Dolly Parton. Peters might do an excellent job, but Parton might be a hoot in the role and a much bigger box office draw with the masses.

    • Rowann Gilman says:

      The owner of this role was Carol Channing. You have to remember that Ms. Channing, Ms.Midler, and Ms. Parton all have had huge numberts of gay fans who have helped to keep this show running on tour, in stock, and now back on Broadway for many years. Ms. Peters is far from chopped liver. Give her the chance and she’ll sell out your house.

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