Everyone remembers Carol Channing’s last Broadway revival of Hello Dolly back in 1995. It turns out that it also happens to be the same production in which Monica M. Wemitt not only made her Broadway debut in the role of Ernestina Money but was also charged with being Carol’s standby. Both on Broadway, and then on the road with Channing, she came to know this classic Jerry Herman musical inside out. She now brings the role of Dolly Levi to life at the Cohoes Music Hall from November 1-11. She is sure to make Dolly as memorable and joyous a character on stage as you have ever met. Wemitt is an incredible talent with the sort of polish that comes from performing with (and filling in for) Dolly’s most beloved interpreter.
To quote Berkshire on Stage critic Gail Burns who travels all over to see Wemitt: “She is an actress with the gift to seem completely relaxed and spontaneous on stage. She establishes an instant rapport with her audience so that you feel every joke is a little secret between just the two of you. And she sings Jerry Herman wonderfully well.” From this review found on her site Gail Sez.
Ms. Burns also noted in another review of Hello Dolly at the Mac Hayden that “Channing is notorious for NEVER missing a performance, but she did, once, and Wemitt got to go on for her. The only actress EVER to go on for Channing in that role. How terrifying is that??
“But here and now no one came to see Channing, they came to see Wemitt, who was born and raised in Columbia County, NY. Hometown girl makes good. It warms the cockles of your heart (wherever they may be located), especially when the hometown girl really IS good, Very, very good. Under Doug Hodge’s direction Wemitt rules the stage and she rules this strong production.”
With a brassy, heartfelt music score beloved by millions, Hello Dolly is the story of Dolly Gallagher Levi, based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce The Merchant of Yonkers, which Wilder revised and retitled The Matchmaker in 1955 for its Broadway run as a comedy. The musical version was first produced on Broadway by David Merrick in 1964, winning the Tony Award for Best Musical and nine other Tonys. The Original Cast show album Hello, Dolly! 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 story revolves around her efforts to marry the wealthy Horace Vandergelder. Along her journey, Dolly plays matchmaker and after a ruckus in an upscale restaurant, Dolly convinces Horace Vandergelder to marry her, making for a very happy ending.
The role of Dolly Levi in the musical was originally written for Ethel Merman, but Merman turned it down, as did Mary Martin (although each eventually played it). The show was originally entitled Dolly, A Damned Exasperating Woman, but David Merrick abbreviated the title immediately upon hearing Louis Armstrong’s version of “Hello, Dolly”. If you saw the play Satchmo at the Waldorf with John Douglas Thompson at Shakespeare & Company recently, you know other parts of the backstory.
Hello Dolly – with live music – is coming to the Cohoes Music Hall located at 58 Remsen St in Cohoes New York are scheduled for two weeks only, from November 1-11 with performances on Thursday-Saturday at 8pm; Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets: $25-$35 and are available by calling the Box Office: 518.237.5858 or you can order tickets on line: www.cohoesmusichall.com