Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Page: 1



Dolly's Age?

MadViolist Profile Photo
MadViolist
Chorus Member
joined:7/23/15
Chorus Member
joined:
7/23/15
Dolly's Age?#1
Posted: 4/10/19 at 2:16pm

Having recently seen Hello, Dolly! on stage for the first time, I got really confused. How old is she supposed to be? When I saw the movie, I thought Barbra seemed very age appropriate -.wasn't she in her late twenties/early thirties? Yet the actress I saw in the stage version was obviously much older. I don't mean to be rude, I still very much enjoyed the performance but it sometimes almost felt like a parody.

(Yes, I know, some actors, such as Bernadette, can pull it off but that's not always the case.)

TotallyEffed Profile Photo
TotallyEffed
Broadway Legend
joined:3/29/07
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/29/07
Dolly's Age?#2
Posted: 4/10/19 at 2:33pm
She is Carol Channing years old.
getupngo Profile Photo
getupngo
Featured Actor
joined:1/22/19
Featured Actor
joined:
1/22/19
Dolly's Age?#3
Posted: 4/10/19 at 2:41pm

The character description states 

Dolly Gallagher Levi: A widow in her middle years who has decided to begin her life again. She is a matchmaker, meddler, opportunist, and a life-loving woman

Esther Blodgett
Understudy
joined:7/15/15
Understudy
joined:
7/15/15
Dolly's Age?#4
Posted: 4/10/19 at 2:41pm

Dolly is in her 40s. She is often played by actresses who are well north of that however.

The main criticism of Barbra when the film was released was that she was way too young. It was criticism that began when her casting was announced. I also feel that it was justified. Barbra was about 26 when the film was shot. This would make her 19 when she was widowed. What was her age when she married? 12?

Dolly had a long successful marriage that ended with Ephraim's death seven years prior to the show.

nealb1 Profile Photo
nealb1
Broadway Legend
joined:8/1/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
8/1/05
Dolly's Age?#5
Posted: 4/10/19 at 3:06pm

Women at the turn of the century got married when they were 16/17 years old.  In the film 20th Century Fox envisioned a young widow with casting Barbra Streisand.  She looks 30/31.  They got married when she was 17, had 6-7 years together and was in mourning for 6-7 years.  Yes, we are used to seeing Dolly Levi in her middle years, as per the description that was posted by Getupngo.

MadViolist Profile Photo
MadViolist
Chorus Member
joined:7/23/15
Chorus Member
joined:
7/23/15
Dolly's Age?#6
Posted: 4/10/19 at 5:01pm

TotallyEffed said: "She is Carol Channing years old."

Hahaha, loving this.

Jordan Catalano Profile Photo
Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
10/9/05
Dolly's Age?#7
Posted: 4/10/19 at 8:37pm

nealb1 said: "Yes, we are used to seeing Dolly Levi in her middle years, as per the description that was posted by Getupngo."

Dolly’s going to live to be 150?

 

Updated On: 4/10/19 at 08:37 PM
Loopin’theloop
Featured Actor
joined:1/9/18
Featured Actor
joined:
1/9/18
Dolly's Age?#8
Posted: 4/11/19 at 5:45am

MadViolist said: "Having recently seen Hello, Dolly! on stage for the first time, I got really confused. How old is she supposed to be? When I saw the movie, I thought Barbra seemed very age appropriate -.wasn't she in her late twenties/early thirties? Yet the actress I saw in the stage version was obviously much older. I don't mean to be rude, I still very much enjoyed the performance but it sometimes almost felt like a parody.

(Yes, I know, some actors, such as Bernadette, can pull it off but that's not always the case.)
"

She needs to be old enough that the audience feel it’s her last chance at happiness. When she sings ‘Before the Parade Passes By’ we need to feel that the parade really is about to pass by without her and she won’t get another chance to take life with both hands and live again. 

Its absolutely true that woman married much younger in that era but a thirty year old is not going to have the poignancy of someone 50+

 

dramamama611 Profile Photo
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
Broadway Legend
joined:
12/4/07
Dolly's Age?#9
Posted: 4/11/19 at 7:40am

For me, the ideal dolly is 40 or 50.  Vandergelder isn't a young man, so there's that match up. 

 

Irene Malloy is in her 20s or 30s - so there should be some difference, esp to accept Mrs. Levi as wiser.

If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
magictodo123
Broadway Legend
joined:3/18/19
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/18/19
Dolly's Age?#10
Posted: 4/11/19 at 8:43am

dramamama611 said: "For me, the ideal dolly is 40 or 50. Vandergelder isn't a young man, so there's that match up.



Irene Malloy is in her 20s or 30s - so there should be some difference, esp to accept Mrs. Levi as wiser.
"

Would you say mid-50s is feasible? 

dramamama611 Profile Photo
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
Broadway Legend
joined:
12/4/07
Dolly's Age?#11
Posted: 4/11/19 at 9:51am

Oh, yes...it's harder to discern a person's age around that time, anyway.   I've pretty much looked like "this" for the last 15 years.

If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
BWAY Baby2
Broadway Star
joined:11/10/14
Broadway Star
joined:
11/10/14
Dolly's Age?#12
Posted: 4/11/19 at 12:03pm

Barbra was one of those people who looked older than she was when she ws young- and younger than she is when she is older. Whereas not many actresses/singers could pull off a credible Dolly in their 20's- Barbra, IMO- did- so age was not an issue with this performance. Generally, though- a woman in middle age or older would be perfect casting. Interesting that while no one has tried to fill Barbra's shoes in a revival of Funny Girl- lots of actresses have made their mark on Dolly- yes, Channing was superb- and she created the role- but it is a vehicle that has been very successful for a wide variety of a performers. Would love to see Harvey Fierstein try it.

Bettyboy72 Profile Photo
Bettyboy72
Broadway Legend
joined:3/31/06
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/31/06
Dolly's Age?#13
Posted: 4/11/19 at 1:24pm

I think there's plenty of wiggle room with age. With Betty being 71, there's added poignancy of her being in the final act of her life and wanting to feel things again.

"The sexual energy between the mother and son really concerns me!"-random woman behind me at Next to Normal "I want to meet him after and bang him!"-random woman who exposed her breasts at Rock of Ages, referring to James Carpinello
Niles Silvers
Stand-by
joined:9/27/18
Stand-by
joined:
9/27/18
Dolly's Age?#14
Posted: 4/11/19 at 11:39pm

In the old days, they referred to it as a woman "of a certain age".  

Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/10/11
Dolly's Age?#15
Posted: 4/12/19 at 11:00am

I always assumed that Dolly was mid-30s to 40, so I was not put off by Streisand, who they made IMO to look in her 30s.  Channing was I think 41-42 when the show originally opened, which always seemed right to me.

I remembered seeing Ethel Merman in the last week of the Broadway run and thinking that she was too damned old to be playing Dolly (of course Merman was so 'rigid' in that show IMO that she could have been 80 from the cheap seats.  She just kept getting older  because of replacement stars and touring stars.

South Fl Marc Profile Photo
South Fl Marc
Broadway Legend
joined:6/23/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/23/04
Dolly's Age?#16
Posted: 4/12/19 at 11:01pm

The fabulous Ruth Gorden was 59 when she originated the role of Dolly in Thornton Wilders "The Matchmaker" the play "Hello Dolly" is based on. Shirley Booth was in her 50s when she did the movie. I think 30's and early 40s is a bit young. Dolly was supposed to have been married for a long time and widowed for a long time. 50's seems to be the ideal age. Barbra on the other hand was completely miscast in the role.

Loopin’theloop
Featured Actor
joined:1/9/18
Featured Actor
joined:
1/9/18
Dolly's Age?#17
Posted: 4/15/19 at 6:19am
It’s about the audiences perception not her actual age. Bette Miller didn’t play the role like a typical woman in her 70s but we know her as ‘older’ as she’s been in the industry for a long time. Added to that, her absence from Broadway for decades aligns with how the restaurant staff feel when she returns to the Harmonia Gardens - it was special. That was the theme with the original take over actors, casting women who’s hayday had long passed. Having those film stars such as Dorothy Labour, Eve Arden and Ginger Rogers tied into the shows heart the same way Midler’s casting did. David Merrick was a very clever man.

Dolly needs to be older but you could feasibly have someone in her 40s play it if the audience have a relationship with them, like the above. If it’s a lesser name then veering slightly older than 44/50 tends to work better but even if the audience don’t have an existing knowledge of the actor (making a Theatre comeback from a long absence etc) then the age factor helps fill in the blanks with the poignancy.