Bette Midler’s return to Broadway last year in the smash-hit revival of Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly! lives in legend. How to match her comic pizzazz and brassy pipes, combined with an undercurrent of vulnerability and a touch of maternal warmth? Easy: go from Bette to Betty. From the moment Betty Buckley sang “Memory” as the original Grizabella in Cats to her long run as stepmom Abby in TV’s Eight Is Enough to her numerous concert and cabaret appearances, she’s shown she possesses all the requisite qualities to play Dolly Levi and then some (and her pipes might just be in better shape than Midler’s). And it’s worth noting that it wasn’t just Midler’s performance that had critics cheering the Dolly revival – it was Jerry Zaks’s direction, Warren Carlyle’s choreography and the sumptuous sets and costumes, too. So look for an empty lap, fellas (or an empty seat at the Straz), and go see Dolly before her parade (and the Hello, Dolly! Broadway tour) passes by. Hello, Dolly! Tues.-Sun., Dec. 4-9, Straz Center, Tampa, 813-229-STAR, strazcenter.org.
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