Unlike Ethel Merman, her only competition for the title of biggest musical theater star of her generation, Mary Martin never shied away from stepping into roles originated by others or taking shows on the road. After Carol Channing triumphed on Broadway with Hello, Dolly! in 1964, Martin willingly took on the North American tour, and not only that, went on to the Far East, where she played in Japan, Korea, and even in the Vietnam War zone to entertain American troops. She then continued on to the U.K., where she opened the London production on December 2, 1965, and, three days later, recorded this cast album. She may be a little the worse for wear vocally as a result, but this is still a characteristic performance. As might be expected, Martin's Dolly Gallagher Levi is warmer and more musical than Channing's, as well as being less comic. It's not that she isn't funny, too, but Martin's humor is of the sly, sidelong glance variety, as opposed to Channing's brassy, full-throttle style. The other performers on the album are adequate, but it's really Martin who dominates the proceedings, just as Channing did the original Broadway cast album, and as any star would in this score. And just as she brought a different, more intimate, more inviting tone to her version of Annie Get Your Gun (another show she willingly toured with, despite not originating the starring role on Broadway), she re-conceives Hello, Dolly! as a Mary Martin show, with winning results.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann