“I just love her so much,” says Tony winner Donna Murphy of Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi.
The Hello, Dolly! star returns to Broadway July 22 to play the delightfully meddlesome matchmaker for six select performances through the run’s closing August 25. Murphy played Dolly on Tuesday evenings when the production first opened in April 2017 at the Shubert Theatre, starring Tony winner Bette Midler as Dolly the rest of the week.
But Murphy admits she didn’t think too much of Dolly before taking on the role in the Tony-winning Broadway revival. “I didn’t think of the show as a show of great depth until I was asked to do it and I opened the script and—I'd never seen a complete production of it—and I read the first two pages and I went, ‘Oh my God,’ because it was only a few months after my husband had passed away. I forgot she was a widow.”
Murphy lost her husband Shawn Elliott in March 2016 and she didn’t believe she’d be able to make her way through a role that now struck so close to her heart. Yet Murphy allows a full range of emotions, including her grief, to infuse her moving portrayal of Dolly.
In the video above, Murphy explains her take on Dolly: her backstory, her relationship with the late Ephram, how she came to be a matchmaker and dance instructor and silhouette artist, and the moment in the show that strikes Murphy deeply and moves her to weep. “There’s something that goes through me.”