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 Sullivan: Where to, Dolly?

Dolly Levi: Yonkers, New York, to handle a highly personal matter for Mr. Horace Vandergelder, the well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire.

Sullivan: Gonna marry him yourself, Dolly?

Dolly Levi: Why, Mr. Sullivan, what ever put such a preposterous idea into my head?, your head!


This famous 1964 musical, adapted from a Thornton Wilder play. The Matchmaker (itself based on an Austrian play, Einen Jux will er sich machen, which was in turn based on an earlier English play, A Day Well-spent) tells the tale of matchmaker and zany manipulator Dolly Levi (originally played by Carol Channing on Broadway). It's the turn of the 20th century in New York City, and after years of making matches for others she's out to make one for herself with the above-mentioned merchant Horace Vandergelder. In the process of doing so, she helps three other couples get together.

In 1969 it became The Movie starring Barbra Streisand as Dolly, becoming one of her best-known roles. Modern audiences, however, will probably recognize footage from the movie due to its use in the recent Pixar film WALL-E.

Includes examples of:

  • Ambiguously Jewish: Dolly Levi is an interesting case, as she is played by Barbra Streisand in the film, and the character in the play is presumably Irish-American (her maiden name is Gallagher) and intermarried, but in both cases speaks with a "Yiddish" rhythm and is a good fit for the stereotypical matchmaker of Jewish humor (compare her with Yente of Fiddler On the Roof).
  • Audience Monologue: The stage musical contains several, mainly holdovers from The Matchmaker, where they were used even more extensively. For the most part, they were excised from the movie version.
  • Cannot Stand Them Cannot Live Without Them: Horace.
  • Catch Phrase: "Holy cabooses!"
  • Epic Song: The title Song, of course!
    • "Hello, Dolly!" is a unique example: it's a medium-slow number with simple music, repetitive lyrics, and basic choreography. And yet, through pure charm, it stops the show every time.
  • Excited Show Title
  • Everything Has Rhythm: The opening
  • Feet First Introduction: In the film.
  • Final Love Duet: "It Only Takes a Moment".
  • The Gay Nineties
  • Genre Killer: For a long time, the flop of the film version was held to have killed the Hollywood musical, until it recouped its losses on home video.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Ambrose and Ermengarde in the film, played by 6-foot-7 Tommy Tune and the rather petite Joyce Ames.
  • "I Am" Song: "I Put My Hand in There".
  • "I Want" Song: "Ribbons Down My Back" and "Before the Parade Passes By".
  • Last Chorus Slow-Down: The title song. Twice.
  • Long Runner: The original production ran for 2844 performances and was briefly the longest running Broadway musical ever.
    • Likewise, Carol Channing's performance in the lead role. She claims to have played the role over 5000 times, having created the role in the original production and performing in revivals and tours for the next thirty years.
  • The Matchmaker: Dolly.
  • Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: 'It Takes a Woman', 'Put on Your Sunday Clothes', 'It Only Takes a Moment'.
  • Movie Bonus Song: "Just Leave Everything To Me" and "Love Is Only Love".
  • My Card: Dolly, at every possible opportunity.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Louis Armstrong!
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Michael Crawford in the film, constantly. The casting department probably figured it could pass for a nonspecific New England accent, but he still sounds downright Cockney in some spots.
  • Opening Chorus: "Call on Dolly".
  • Parasol of Prettiness
  • The Plan: The entire play.
  • Race Lift: After the original Broadway production had run for a few years, the entire cast was replaced by an all-black company headed by Pearl Bailey as Dolly and Cab Calloway as Vandergelder. By all accounts, this was a great success, reviving slowed ticket sales. Bailey won a Special Tony Award for her performance.
  • Small Start Big Finish: "Before the Parade Passes By" and the title song
  • Talking to the Dead: Dolly addresses her dead husband, Ephram, and asks him to give her a sign of his consent for her to marry Horace.
  • Title Drop: The title song, of course.
    • In fact, the show was named after the song, not the other way around. The original title was Dolly, a Damned Exasperating Woman, but when producer David Merrick heard Louis Armstrong's recording of the "Hello, Dolly!", he liked it so much that he changed the name. The original title gets its own Title Drop in a line by Horace Vandergelder.