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Show People with Paul Wontorek: Donna Murphy of HELLO, DOLLY!

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Get Tickets to HELLO, DOLLY!: https://www.broadway.com/shows/hello-dolly/

HELLO, DOLLY! star Donna Murphy opens up about playing the meddling matchmaker, her early days on the New York theater scene, where she keeps her Tony Awards and much more.

Here are some of the must-read highlights:

ON HER TONY AWARDS
“The King and I one is very safe up at my mom’s house in Topsfield, Massachusetts. The Passion one—it kind of turned in a funky way. Or maybe somebody in my house was trying to clean it with too abrasive a product. I don’t know if I can get a new version of it. It’s still beautiful and incredibly meaningful, and it just makes me feel a little old, because it looks like it’s aged.”

ON DOLLY AND DONNA
“When I first read that script and got to the monologue to Ephraim, I just burst into tears. I thought, ‘I can’t do this because it’s too fresh. It’s too close.’ Shawn really was my partner in everything. I took for granted the conversations that happened while we were brushing our teeth and flossing or cleaning up in the kitchen after our daughter had gone to bed. Doing this show, I have to remind myself: this is Dolly’s journey. Dolly is 10 years out from losing her husband. I was months out as I started this process. It was a year out by the time I actually started performances. There are days when it feels like it can’t be possible that he’s gone; he’s very much with me. At the same time, I don’t feel like Donna up there, and I don’t feel like I’m talking to Shawn. I feel like I’m Dolly, and I’ve made Ephraim a very specific person. He definitely has some commonalities with my husband. There are parallels, but the story is separate from mine.”

ON THE DOLLY! COMPANY
“There’s such joy in doing this show and in embodying this woman and connecting with the company and connecting with the audiences. There was a physical ache in missing her that was truly palpable. I love getting to play her so much. I love the opportunity to be on stage again. It's not just fluff. There's really a soulful journey at its center."

ON FALLING IN LOVE WITH PERFORMING
“I remember when my parents saw Golden Rainbow. I remember looking through the Playbill. And I went, ‘There's a kid in this show! You can be a kid and be on Broadway!’ I turned angrily to my mother: ‘Mommy, I could be auditioning! Why didn't you tell me there were kids on Broadway?’ She says, ‘Honey, when you're an adult, you'll figure out if you want to do this.’ I'm like, ‘I know what I want to do.’ My first show was Goldilocks and the Three Bears in kindergarten. I was Goldilocks. At the end of the show, the kindergarten teacher had staged for us to all have a big party on stage. There was some rock 'n' roll, probably The Beatles, playing. We all danced. I remember that the curtain got yanked closed, and somehow, I was in front of the curtain. I didn't know it. The music was still playing. I was dancing. The audience suddenly was laughing louder and clapping louder. I was like, ‘This is the greatest feeling. I’m quite embarrassed and delighted at the same time.’“

ON MAKING BIG DECISIONS
“My parents were heartbroken because I did very well academically. I remember my dad saying, ‘You don't have to do this.’ And I said, ‘Actually I do, Daddy.’ Because I learned pretty quickly that if you don't feel like you have to do it, you would not want to. I did They're Playing Our Song, and it was wonderful. But I got bored really fast. I didn't have an agent. So, I went to more open calls. I had this idea that I had to find a way to keep growing. I got a show, Zapata, about the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. It was at the Goodspeed Opera House. This sexy devil named Shawn Elliott was the star of the show. I always think about making the choice to leave a Broadway show that was still running successfully. My parents, who were worried about me being in the business in the first place, were like, ‘What are you doing?!’ But that was the beginning of a different level of taking responsibility for my career. But that thing with my dad really weighed heavy on me for a long time. There was a point where I remember having a meal with him and him saying, ‘I get it, honey.’”

ON WATCHING HERSELF ON YOUTUBE
“Every once in awhile, I’m like, ‘Oh my God! That existed? That’s there?’ Other times, I’m like, ‘That’s enough. Go to bed, Donna!’”

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