Anita appeared on the BBC Breakfast Show on BBC1 this morning at 09:08am, to promote her forthcoming tour of “Hello Dolly”….
SIAN WILLIAMS: Welcome back to Hello Dolly. It’s one of the most successful of all time, running for almost three thousand performances on Broadway and collecting ten Tony Awards.
BILL TURNBULL: The film version starring Barbra Streisand was nominated for seven Oscars and now Anita Dobson will play the role of the famous matchmaker, Dolly Levi in a new production, about to go on a nationwide tour …. [indistinct] let us know.
ANITA DOBSON: Hello.
BILL: Well, Hello Dolly.
ANITA: What a build-up.
BILL: It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.
SIAN: Anyway – fantastic that you’re in it. Now, for those of us, and I’ve never seen “Hello Dolly”…
SIAN: Exactly. Can you tell us what’s it’s about.
ANITA: Well, she’s basically a matchmaker. She was born – her real name is Gallagher, and Irish lady, and has married Ephraim Levi, who is Jewish, and the Irish and the Jewish people both have matchmakers, and Ephraim did have money, which Dolly’s helped him spend because they both believed in spreading it around and helping people, and she’s now on her own, he’s died, and so she’s continuing. She’s not just a matchmaker. She’s kind of a lady who does. You know ‘I know a man who does’. (laughs) She’s anything you want, she’ll help you find it. She’s a Mrs Fix-it. You know, if you want something done, she’ll know somebody who can do it, or she’ll put you in touch with someone, or she’ll help you get it done. That’s how she works.
BILL: It was a huge musical in the Sixties, wasn’t it?
ANITA: Yeah, it was, yeah. It was done very famously over here with Carol Channing playing Dolly Levi, and Danny LaRue also did it…
BILL: That’s right. Yes.
ANITA: … quite famously, but it’s not – and Dora Bryan took over from Carol and did the tour, the last tour that was ever done, but it hasn’t been done in this country for over 18 years now, which is a long time, so…
SIAN: Did you get out DVD’s? Did you think to yourself, ‘I’m in this role now”. How did you research it?
ANITA: Well, for me I think it, I mean, I’d seen the film anyway, ‘cos I’m a huge fan of Barbra Streisand. But it’s based on a book by Thornton Wilder called “The Matchmaker”, so it’s a great story anyway. It’s a good book and with the songs, obviously, that gives it another level. But for me the only way I can approach anything is I have to start from me, from the story, from the character, and build it myself. I can’t sort of look at what other people have done and then try and recreate that. It has to come basically from whoever’s playing it. You have to do it from scratch.
BILL TURNBULL: You’ve got a train in this – a real train on stage. What kind of train?
ANITA: Well, we’ve got a – yes there is a moment where they all go on the train and they go off to Yonkers, and when we did it in Lincoln, which we did last year as a little try out, we had a sort of little cut-out train, which I adored, personally it as adorable, and this year apparently now for the tour, we’ve got a proper little train, which we can all get in and it choo-choo’s off.
SIAN: Are you alright with the singing?
**Tue 08 Jan 08**
ANITA DOBSON “THIS MORNING” TRANSCRIPT
“This Morning” was hosted today by Philip Schofield and Fern Britton, who asked her about the background to her forthcoming tour of the musical “Hello Dolly”, which opens in February and will tour the UK until August….
PHILIP SCHOFIELD: Now of course since EastEnders, Anita Dobson has appeared in numerous stage and film productions, and a “faux fur” production just a moment ago, and now about to take to the stage in a revival of “Hello Dolly”. Well, what a great show. What great songs!
ANITA DOBSON: Yeah. A little scary.
FERN BRITTON: It hasn’t been done for ages, has it?
ANITA: I think the last time it was done in this country must have been over 18 years ago.
FERN: So it’s just in time for a revival, but you have to seek permission to do it?
ANITA: Yes you have to ask Jerry Herman’s people for the rights to do the production.
FERN: He’s the lyricist?
ANITA: Yes, and he, thankfully, agreed, because we did a try out the show in Lincoln. It wasn’t ostensibly a tryout, but we did the show in Lincoln, and it seemed too short somehow. Beautiful costumes and suddenly it was over, so they asked Jerry Herman if he would give permission and after lots of tapes being sent and reviews and copy of the video of the show we did in Lincoln, and he finally said “Yes”.
PHILIP: So was that what swung it for you? What did you have that other people, and there must have been loads of people who’d asked for the rights for the ability to do it, how did you get it?
ANITA: I don’t know. We did try many years ago, somebody else said to me, would you like to play the part, and they tried then and it didn’t really happen. I think I wasn’t ready to do it at that point, and when it came round this time, it just seemed to fall into place. I did have a feeling about it when we finished at Lincoln. I thought, “I don’t feel this is the last time I’m going to wear the costumes”, but I didn’t think…
FERN: Fabulous costumes, because it’s all sort of set at the turn of the last century and all those fabulous long dresses.
ANITA: And those hats, women who wear hats and little dolly…
FERN: Mmmm. And all those fantastic, as Philip said, the fabulous score – “Put On Your Sunday Clothes”. I mean, it’s just is full of fantastic songs.
PHILIP: “Before the Parade Passes By”.
ANITA: Big songs. Big numbers.
PHILIP: And “Just Leave Everything To Me” is another one, isn’t it? That was the bit that I was reading.
FERN: Yes, yes.
PHILIP: The only bit that I can remember is “Charming social introductions, Expert mandolin instructions”. Is that right?
ANITA: Yes it is, yes.
PHILIP: Why would I remember that?
ANITA: I don’t know. Perhaps you’d like to learn to play the mandolin and I’m the girl to help you.
FERN: Hurray. Love it.
PHILIP: So, explain it. If anyone had been under a rock and had missed the big Streisand movie, or the story before, Dolly Levi is your part. She is…
PHILIP and ANITA together: A matchmaker.
PHILIP: She is a fixer.
ANITA: Yes, she is a fixer. She was born “Gallagher”, so she’s actually Irish by birth, but she is married to Ephraim Levi, who is Jewish, and the Irish and the Jews, have Matchmakers. That’s how they go about their arranged marriages, or did, and so that’s what Dolly’s doing. But she doesn’t just match make. Anything you want, she would find it for you. If you wanted a truck hauled from to Birmingham, Dolly would know a man who does it. So she’s one of those people. She’s a fixer, an intermediary. She gives out cards to everybody, and anything you need, she knows someone that can help.
FERN: And she’s now a wealthy widow, so he’s fixing herself up as well.
ANITA: Kind of. I think probably Ephraim was well off, but Dolly spent his money for him. I mean, he had a kind of motto that money’s no good to you unless you move it around and give it to young people and encourage…
FERN: (In character) Doesn’t do a bit of good unless you spread it around, like manure.
PHILIP: She’s got her eye on Horace Vandergelder, who of course does have a bit of money.
ANITA: I think Dolly’s ready to retire. She’s ready to ease on down and actually have an easier life. She actually says at one point,you know, “I’m tired”. Tired of living from hand to mouth, which means she is actually having to work for a living. She’s not kind of resting on her laurels. So I think she, and she wants to be married again. I think she’s lonely, and although she’s busy and she’s quite happy at getting everybody else sorted, and she loves her life, I think she’s ready to live it properly herself, emotionally.
FERN: And there are wonderful stories of the other characters, the romances, the ‘will they/won’t they”, the mistaken identities, the misunderstanding going on. You’ve got Darren Day playing Michael Crawford’s part, in the film. Have you met him yet?
FERN: Was he in the original show?
ANITA: No, he wasn’t. No, but he’s doing this one and we met at the photocall and he seems a really nice young man.
ANITA: Very nice. It’s a lovely cast, I have to say, and Louise English is playing opposite him as Irene Molloy, and she’s a great mate of mine, so that’s very nice. And a lot of the original cast are in it…. [indistinct], we’ve got a new Vandergelder, David McAlister, so it’s half the people that we had before and half new, which is quite a nice mix I think.
PHILIP: A great position for you to be in, I mean, you don’t, you get so much enjoyment out of the theatre. You don’t have to work, so you can pick the roles that you want to pick, and this one, you’re never off stage I wouldn’t have imagined.
ANITA: She does talk a lot.
PHILIP: What a great position for you to be in, picking and choosing the best roles and doing what you want.
ANITA: Yeah, it’s kind of, it’s wonderful, it is wonderful and I’m very privileged and very aware of that fact, but it also IS quite difficult because I’ve never been away on a long tour and I don’t think Brian’s looking forward to it too much.
PHILIP: Well after you finish in August, doesn’t he then go off and do his own tour?
ANITA: Yes and I can go with him. He doesn’t go to Standon. He goes to Moscow and Paris so I can go with him, which will be nice.
FERN: Is this a big big big tour that he’s doing as well then?
ANITA: I think about 3 months. He’s doing some European dates and then he’ll come back and do some dates in England.
PHILIP: Yes, tough to be apart …
ANITA: It is, but, you know, we’ve been together 21 years and he’s toured for a lot of that and, you know, if you care for each other, you find a way. I mean, it’s not easy. Marriage isn’t easy. No relationship’s easy. Life isn’t easy, but you find a way.
FERN: Is he finished, was it his Doctorate? Is it all done now?
ANITA: He’s Dr May now.
FERN: Doctor May!
ANITA: I’m married to a doctor. Doctor’s wife.
PHILIP: Well “Hello Dolly” absolutely not to be missed. I think starts at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton on the 1st of February.
ANITA: It does. Not long.
PHILIP: Absolutely not to be missed and on our web site the rest of the places that you’re going to. Anita, thank you very much.
ANITA: It’s a pleasure.
FERN: Lovely to see you.
ANITA: Thank you.
You can view dates for the “Hello Dolly” tour at
The Anita Dobson Fan Club site.