An aging but still spry star struts, skips, and sashays through hit songs from the 60s, cannily marshaling every physical resource–gritty growl, gangly physique, expressive arms, larger-than-life lips and eyes–for maximum effect over the course of a two-and-a-half-hour love feast for an adoring audience. Mick Jagger on his Voodoo Lounge tour? No: it’s Carol Channing, at 71 a legend who refuses to rest on her laurels. In her umpteenth tour of Hello, Dolly! Channing shifts with ease between intimate comic pathos (marriage broker Dolly Levi’s secret soliloquies, addressed to her dead husband, seeking his guidance as she prepares to end her loneliness by tracking down a rich widower), grande-dame grace (slinking down that long red staircase in the title song), and broad burlesque (showing off her Lorelei Lee legs as she belts out “So Long Dearie,” her declaration of independence from any man who doesn’t know what he’s got when he gets her). Under Lee Roy Reams’s direction, librettist Michael Stewart’s gag-filled adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s farce The Matchmaker is still a solidly crafted blend of humor and sentiment 30 years after its Broadway debut, and Jerry Herman’s jaunty score, peppered with quirky character-revealing songs as well as Cohan-esque crowd pleasers, just gets better with age. The same is true of Channing’s steel-trap timing and exhilarating presence. And how could you not love a star who lists among the honors she’s proudest of an appearance on Nixon’s enemies list? Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe, 902-1500. Through August 14: Thursday, 7:30 PM; Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 2 and 8 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. $15-$60.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Joan Marcus.