Goodbye, Dolly. Eventually.
Tony winner Bette Midler was back on Broadway Wednesday following a pair of nights off that included Sunday’s Tony Award ceremony, where she took home the big prize for her role in “Hello, Dolly!”
And Great White Way insiders are already prepping for the separation anxiety sure to follow the Divine Miss M last curtain call — even though no date has been announced.
“Everyone is worried that she’s going to leave,” said one insider with close ties to Broadway. “They’re already planning for life after ‘Dolly.’ She’s already won the Tony.”
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Fans had a glimpse of that future on Tuesday when Midler’s back-up Donna Murphy appeared in the lead role for the first time since the show opened on April 20.
Among the more common rumors making the rounds on Broadway are Nathan Lane or Cher who may step in when Midler leaves. But Lane is currently performing in “Angels in America” in London and Cher is on tour through Nov. 11.
“They’d love to keep (Midler) as long as they can,” says our insider. “She’s a big moneymaker. But her days are obviously numbered.”
At Sunday’s Tonys rehearsals, which Midler didn’t attend, there was chatter that having Midler lip-sync a song from the show had been considered at some level. After all, she would have already done three shows in 36-hours.
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“It was something that was being discussed, but the Tonys people said no because they’re all about live theater and that’s what they stand for,” said one gossip with loose ties to theater’s biggest night.
Sources close to Midler and “Hello,Dolly!” tell us if those discussions ever happened at any level, that’s news to them.
“She performs every night on Broadway — why would she lip-sync?” we were asked.
Once the show started, it became clear Midler was not on voice rest.
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“Shut that crap off!” she snapped at the orchestra when they tried to play her off after accepting the Tony. Sure enough, Midler finished her four-minute speech to a roaring ovation.
She’ll host her annual Spring Picnic Benefitting the New York Restoration Project at Inwood’s Sherman Creek Park on Monday.
With Brian Niemietz
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