Don’t pity Bernadette Peters for taking over for the force of nature known as Bette Midler in the title role of the Tony-winning hit musical revival “Hello, Dolly!” The Broadway veteran is, as the Act 2 song goes, back where she belongs and bringing a distinctly Broadway energy to this warhorse of a show.
Make no mistake: Peters brings a different kind of star power and charisma to the aging matchmaker at the heart of composer Jerry Herman’s 54-year-old show. At 69, she still has that familiarly nasal, vibrato-heavy voice. And while she can’t match some of Midler’s comic brio — particularly in an Act 2 bit with food that feels more like a forced-feeding — she moves much better on stage, even tossing in some tap elements to an Act 1 production number.
She also brings a refreshing vulnerability to Dolly Levi — a word that you could never put in the same sentence with Bette Midler. In Peters’ hands, the Act 1 show-stopper “Before the Parade Passes By” begins as a heart-tugging almost introspective cri de coeur until she builds up the courage to take on the world.
Before long, she also takes on center stage in an increasingly elaborate production number that Jerry Zaks stages with a full cast of Warren Carlyle’s Gower Champion-inspired choreography and the benefit of Santo Loquasto’s remarkable sets and costumes.
Read the rest of my review at TheWrap.