The musical Hello, Dolly!, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, opened at the St. James Theatre on January 16, 1964 starring Carol Channing. In 1969 it was made into a movie, starring Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau.

Based on The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder, it is the story of Dolly Gallagher Levi. She has been hired to make a match for wealthy, but parsimonious, Yonkers store-owner Horace Vandergelder. Dolly, however, is recently widowed and lonely, and sets her sights on Horace and his fortune for herself. She sows doubts in his mind about Irene Molloy, a pretty young widow she has picked out for him, before sending him off to New York to meet Irene.

Meanwhile two of Horace's employees, Cornelius and Barnaby, have decided to take advantage of his absence and see the big city for themselves, and have some fun and adventure. Once there, they spot Horace on the street, and sneak into the hat shop where Horace has arranged to meet Irene, in an attempt to hide. Dolly and Irene hide the boys, but Horace decides that Irene is concealing 'strange men' and storms out saying he will meet with the rich Ernestina Money (an invention of Dolly's) instead.

This idea suits everyone, because Cornelius has fallen for Irene, and she has already told her assistant, Minnie Fay, that the only reason she is prepared to accept Horace is to escape the drudgery of her hat shop.

Dolly suggests that the boys take Irene and Minnie to dinner at the Harmonia Gardens to make up for spoiling the meeting with Horace, and they all soon find themselves standing in front of the expensive restaurant, with no idea how to pay. When Horace too shows up, looking for the mysterious Ernestina, chaos ensues.

Everything works out in the end, of course -- this is a musical after all. The show is pure farcical fluff, but has some great songs and if you don't demand anything more challenging than mind candy, it's fun to watch.

Songs (movie):

1. Just Leaving Everything To Me
2. It Takes A Woman
3. It Takes A Woman - (reprise)
4. Put On Your Sunday Clothes
5. Ribbons Down My Back
6. Dancing
7. Before The Parade Passes By
8. Elegance
9. Love Is Only Love
10. Hello Dolly
11. It Only Takes A Moment
12. So Long Dearie
13. Finale

"Hello Dolly!" was also a #1 hit for the great Louis Armstrong in 1963, when he was in his 60s. It was Armstrong's biggest hit ever, so big it even knocked The Beatles out of the #1 spot for a few weeks. Armstrong changed the words a bit, singing "Hello Dolly, this is Louis, Dolly", using his preferred pronouciation of his name, with a sibilant "s": "Lewis", not "Louie".

Arvell Shaw, who played bass with "Pops" for decades, relates a funny story in Ken Burns' documentary, Jazz. The band went into the studio to cut a record and they were presented with the music for "Hello Dolly!", amongst other songs. Louis protested, "What is this shit? I gotta play this?" to which Arvell replied, "Come on Louis, just do it." And so the song was committed to tape.

The band, on tour in Europe, were unaware that the song had become an instant hit, and so, when the audience began calling for the song at concerts Armstrong for a time ignored them because he couldn't tell what they were saying. Finally, after some weeks of hearing these incomprehensible yells, he turned to his bandmates and asked what people were calling out. When they told him "Hello Dolly!", he couldn't remember even having recorded the tune. They had to send away for the sheet music and re-learn the song before they could perform it live.

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