Hello, Dolly!

Hello, Dolly! is a musical with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce The Merchant of Yonkers, which Wilder revised and retitled The Matchmaker in 1955.

The original Broadway production opened on January 16, 1964 at the St James Theatre and ran for 2844 performances. It was first produced on Broadway by David Merrick in 1964, winning the Tony Award for Best Musical and nine other Tonys. It was directed and choreographed by Gower Champion. The show album Hello, Dolly! An Original Cast Recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002. The show has become one of the most enduring musical theatre hits, enjoying three Broadway revivals and international success. It was also made into a 1969 film that was nominated for seven Academy Awards.

The plot of Hello, Dolly! originated in Einen Jux will er sich machen (He Wants to Go Off On a Spree), an 1842 play by Austrian Johann Nestroy, which was itself based on an 1835 English play, A Day Well Spent. Wilder adapted Nestroy’s play into his 1938 farcical play, The Merchant of Yonkers, a flop, which he revised, expanding the role of Dolly, and retitled The Matchmaker in 1955, starring Ruth Gordon.

The Matchmaker became a hit and was much revived and made into a 1958 film of the same name starring Shirley Booth. The story of a meddlesome widow who strives to bring romance to several couples and herself in a big city restaurant also features prominently in the 1891 hit musical A Trip to Chinatown.

In Hello, Dolly!, Dolly Levi, the well-known matchmaker, attempts to find herself a husband in the wealthy Horace Vandergelder. Meanwhile, she matches together a rich widow, Irene Molloy with Vandergelder’s employee, Cornelius Hackl. She also sets up Molloy’s assistant, Minnie, with Cornelius’s assistant, Barnaby. Further, she matches the poor artist, Ambrose, with Vandergelder’s niece, Ermengarde. In the end, after a ruckus at an upscale restaurant and a court case, Dolly convinces Vandergelder to marry her and all is well.

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