Everything you need to know about ‘Hello, Dolly!’ at the London Palladium

From who will be playing the lead in Hello, Dolly! to when you can see it, check out our guide on this much-loved musical soon to be hitting the West End.

Olivia Rook
Olivia Rook

Say hello to the much-anticipated revival of Hello, Dolly! at the London Palladium. Theatre greats including Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, and Carol Channing have all taken on the role of meddling matchmaker Dolly Levi, and now it’s Imelda Staunton's turn, following her last stage performance in Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads.

To find out more about the production, including the songs you can expect to hear and who is joining Staunton on stage, read our ultimate Hello, Dolly! guide.

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What is Hello, Dolly! about?

Based on Thornton Wilder's 1938 farce The Merchant of Yonkers, which he revised and retitled The Matchmaker in 1955, Hello, Dolly! is set at the turn of the 20th century and follows widowed, meddling socialite Dolly Levi. During a trip to New York to fix up miserly "half-a-millionaire" Horace Vandergelder, she decides to leave her life of solitude and make herself a match.

The musical was made into a film in 1969, directed by Gene Kelly and starring Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award winner Barbra Stresiand as Dolly.

Where is Hello, Dolly! playing?

Hello, Dolly! opens at the London Palladium in the West End on 6 July 2024 and runs until 14 September. The Palladium opened in 1910 and has seating across three levels: the stalls, royal circle, and upper circle. The theatre was bought by Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Really Useful Group in 2000, and its many notable musical revivals include The Sound of Music in 2006 and The Wizard of Oz in 2010.

What is Hello, Dolly!'s running time?

The running time of Hello, Dolly! is yet to be announced, but previous productions have been about 2.5 hours long with a 15-minute interval.

Who wrote the Hello, Dolly! musical?

Hello, Dolly! has music and lyrics by Jerry Herman (Mame, La Cage aux Folles) and a book by Michael Stewart (Bye Bye Birdie, 42nd Street).

When can I see the musical?

Matinee performances of Hello, Dolly! begin at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday, and evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Who is in Hello, Dolly! in London?

The title character, Dolly Levi, is played by Imelda Staunton, best known for her screen work as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and, more recently, the late Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s royal drama The Crown. Her recent stage appearances include Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads at the Bridge Theatre in 2020 and the 2017 revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies at the National Theatre.

She is joined by Olivier Award-winning actress Jenna Russell (Sunday in the Park with George, Merrily We Roll Along,, Fun Home), Andy Nyman (Ghost Stories), Tyrone Huntley (Jesus Christ Superstar), and Harry Hepple (Hamilton).

Hello, Dolly! characters

While the musical centres on its leading lady Dolly Levi, there are a number of other characters who make up the cast. Discover all the main characters in Hello, Dolly!

  • Dolly Levi: A matchmaker who finally decides to take her own chance on love.
  • Horace Vandergelder: The middle-aged merchant of Yonkers, New York who seeks Dolly's matchmaking services to find a second wife.
  • Minnie Fay: Mrs. Malloy’s assistant.
  • Cornelius Hackl: One of Vandergelder's underpaid clerks, who is looking for some adventure in his life.
  • Ermengarde: The young niece of Horace Vandergelder.
  • Barnaby Tucker: Another of Vandergelder's clerks, who sets out with Hackl in search of adventure.
  • Irene Molloy: A milliner who is set up as a prospective wife for Vandergelder.
  • Ambrose Kemper: An artist who is courting Ermengarde.
  • Ernestina: An eccentric woman in need of Dolly's matchmaking services. Dolly tries to pass her off as an heiress and set her up with Vandergelder.

Hello, Dolly! songs

The 1964 Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! features 19 songs by Jerry Herman. The composer/lyricist reportedly gave permission to move around the show’s opening scenes and change one of its songs before he died in 2019, so stay tuned to see if any of these songs are cut or rearranged for the London Palladium production.

Act 1

  • "Overture"
  • "Call on Dolly"
  • "I Put My Hand In"
  • "It Takes a Woman"
  • "It Takes a Woman" (reprise)
  • "World Take Me Back"
  • "Put on Your Sunday Clothes"
  • "Ribbons Down My Back"
  • "Ribbons Down My Back" (reprise)
  • "Motherhood March"
  • "Dancing"
  • "Love, Look in My Window"
  • "Before the Parade Passes By"

Act 2

  • "Entr'acte"
  • "Penny in my Pocket"
  • "Elegance"
  • "The Waiters’ Gallop"
  • "Hello, Dolly!"
  • "The Waiters' Gallop" (reprise)
  • "The Polka Contest"
  • "It Only Takes a Moment"
  • "So Long Dearie"
  • "Hello, Dolly!" (reprise)
  • Finale Act II: "Hello, Dolly!" / "Dancing" / "It Only Takes a Moment" / "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" / "Hello, Dolly!"

How many awards has Hello, Dolly! won?

Hello, Dolly! was a huge success on Broadway, and the original production won 10 Tony Awards in 1964. Interestingly, Carol Channing earned the Tony for Best Actress over Barbra Streisand (as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl), who went on to play Dolly in the 1969 film.

The 2017 revival won four Tony Awards, and Samantha Spiro won an Olivier Award for her turn as Dolly in a 2009 production at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. The same production went on to win Olivier Awards for Best Musical Revival and Best Theatre Choreography.

Major productions of Hello, Dolly!

Hello, Dolly! made its debut at the Fisher Theater in Detroit in November 1963, starring Channing as Dolly Levi — and it only took a moment for the musical to become a classic. Discover some of the most notable productions of Hello, Dolly! throughout history.

  • Broadway premiere: The musical moved to Broadway's St. James Theatre in 1964, with Channing in the title role. The production closed in December 1970. A number of prominent actresses had been enlisted to play Dolly, including Ethel Merman, during the musical's run.
  • West End premiere: On this side of the pond, Mary Martin played Dolly in the 1965 West End production at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
  • First Broadway revival: Hello, Dolly! was revived at the Minskoff Theatre in 1975. Pearl Bailey was cast as Dolly.
  • Second Broadway revival: The musical headed to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1978, where Channing returned to the role of Dolly.
  • First West End revival: Carol Channing headed to London in 1979 with a revival at Theatre Royal Drury Lane and Shaftesbury Theatre.
  • Second West End revival: The musical had a revival in 1984 at the Prince of Wales Theatre, with singer and entertainer Danny La Rue playing Dolly.
  • Third Broadway revival: Seventeen years after its first performance at the theatre, Hello, Dolly! was reprised at the Lunt-Fontanne, again with Channing in the title role.
  • Regent's Park revival: In 2009, Spiro was cast as Dolly in the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre production, winning an Olivier Award for her performance.
  • Fourth Broadway revival: In 2017, Bette Midler played Dolly at the Sam S. Shubert Theatre.

Celebrities who have performed in Hello, Dolly!

Staunton joins a long line of famous faces who have taken to the stage as Dolly. Learn more about the most notable ones below.

  • Imelda Staunton: Staunton finally takes her turn as Dolly in the 2023 West End revival. She was originally set to lead this production in 2020 before the pandemic delayed it.
  • Carol Channing: Channing won a Tony Award for originating the iconic role of Dolly on Broadway. She reprised the role on stage three more times between then and 1995.
  • Ethel Merman: The role of Dolly was originally written for Merman but she turned it down. She went on to play Dolly at the end of the musical's first Broadway run in 1970.
  • Pearl Bailey: Bailey starred in the first Broadway revival, leading an all-black cast. Her performance earned Bailey a special Tony Award (as a replacement, she wasn't eligible for a standard nomination).
  • Mary Martin: Martin was the first to play Dolly on this side of the pond in a 1965 production at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
  • Barbra Streisand: Streisand starred in the 1969 film, directed by Gene Kelly. She was joined by Walter Matthau as Vandergelder and Michael Crawford as Hackl.
  • Bette Midler: Midler won her first Tony Award for her turn as Dolly in the 2017 Broadway revival.
  • Bernadette Peters: Peters took over the role from Midler on Broadway.
  • Samantha Spiro: Spiro won an Olivier Award for her performance at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in 2009.

Fun facts about Hello, Dolly!

Hello, Dolly! has been around for nearly 50 years, but here are some fun facts you may not know about the hit musical.

  • The film's original budget was $20 million, making it the most expensive musical to date.
  • Hello, Dolly!'s Tony Award record was unmatched until The Producers secured 12 awards in 2001, 37 years later.
  • The original cast recording of Hello, Dolly! was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.

How do I get Hello, Dolly! tickets?

You won’t want to miss this revival, which features an all-star cast and classic songs from the original Broadway production. Book Hello, Dolly! tickets on London Theatre.

Book Tickets CTA - LT/NYTG

Photo credit: Imelda Staunton. (Photo courtesy of production)

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