Betty Buckley joins the ‘Hello, Dolly’ parade. And the pleasure of it doesn’t pass us by.
For female musical-theater stars of a certain age, slipping into Dolly Gallagher Levi’s bedazzled red gown and matching red feather headdress seems a mandate of destiny, the way putting on a satin sash and diamond tiara is for a queen. So it now justly occurs that the “Hello, Dolly!” scepter passes to Betty Buckley, Broadway’s original Grizabella the Glamour Cat, in the endearing touring version of director Jerry Zaks’s Tony-winning revival.
It is a warm and rosy Dolly that Buckley presents to us in the Kennedy Center Opera House, one with whom an audience quickly seals an emotional bond. You get a sense that this role calls heavily on Buckley’s own emotional reserves, so much so that when she arrives at “Before the Parade Passes By,” the sentimental self-help number that closes Act 1, she can’t help but reveal the degree to which Dolly the survivor moves her, and she has to repeatedly wipe away the tears.