Dolly Days! Carol Channing returns to San Francisco

Sep 22

SAD NEWS! After I posted the article below, I received a press release stating that for health reasons, Carol Channing has had to cancel her San Francisco performances this week. This is the first time she’s ever had to cancel a performance.

“It’s a painful and temporary set back,” Channing said in a statement. “This week was to be the launch of the statewide campaign to bring back the teaching of the arts in the public schools and that I can’t be there hurts almost as bad as my injury. I promise to return to San Francisco in the future. There is no better city to help us begin raising awareness with regard to the necessity for Arts programs in education.”

“On behalf of everyone at the Museum of Performance & Design, we wish Miss Channing a healthy and speedy recovery,” said David Humphrey, Director of the Museum of Performance & Design. “We look forward to Carol visiting the Museum in the near future to see the incredible exhibit celebrating her life and work as one of America’s great Broadway treasures.”

The museum is still going ahead with the opening of its Channing exhibit.

Refunds for the concert are available by calling City Box Office at (415) 392-4400.

The Theatre Rhinoceros benefit will now be hosted by Darryl Stephens (Noah from Logo Channel’s “Noah’s Arc” and the up-coming feature film “Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom” — in theaters Oct. 24th).

Now here’s the article…

Stopping Carol Channing from working would be as impossible as preventing Dolly Levi from sashaying down the steps of the Harmonia Gardens.

At 87, Channing, the winner of three Tony Awards and a legend for her more than 5,000 performances in the title role of the musical Hello, Dolly! is still hard at work. She and her husband, childhood sweetheart Harry Kullijian (Channing’s fourth husband), have created the Dr. Carol Channing & Harry Kullijian Foundation for the Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving arts education in California schools.

“Art is so important for students. It fertilizes their brains,” says Channing in that unmistakable, oft-imitated voice. We’ve been going all around the state lecturing at high schools and universities about the importance of the arts. But we hear from the teachers about how programs get cut.”

Channing recalls hearing from a kindergarten teacher who said that she sees the children come into the classroom, eager to learn, make new friends and discover wonderful things.

“Then,” Channing says, “without arts programs, the teachers watch the students’ little brains disintegrate. The teachers got tears in their eyes telling me about this in San Diego. These teachers watch as the students lose interest slowly, and by the time they’re in high school, they’re into all kinds of trouble.”

So Channing and Kullijian are doing what they can to remedy what they see as a dire situation if arts remain out of touch for young people. On Thursday, Sept. 25, Channing headlines in Hello, Carol! A Celebration of Carol Channing at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre. The gala concert will feature special guest Carole Cook and the California Pops Orchestra.

The evening will serve as a formal launch of a major fundraising effort for Channing and Kullijian’s foundation and its public awareness campaign about the arts in education.

“The goal is not to create artists, necessarily,” Kullijian adds. “The focal point of this project is to bring arts back into the curriculum in California. We need to think of younger people with a more holistic attitude. They’re growing up in a tough world, and the competition is keen. We need a lot of people intelligent people who also have art and culture. We need to upgrade our educational system to compete in the world. It’s going to get tougher. Carol knows this – she’s paid the price, so to speak, to be the messenger. She does love young people and the arts, and she has these broad arms that encompass so many and so much.”

While she’s back in her hometown this week, Channing will also be stopping by Theatre Rhinoceros to make an appearance at their gala benefit at the Levende Lounge on Tuesday, Sept. 23. She’ll judge a Carol Channing lookalike contest (finalists were selected during “Project Channing: America’s Next Top (Drag) Carol!” at the Truck Bar), and the audience will enjoy food, cocktails, a silent auction and a performance from the original cast of Up Jumped SpringtimeColeman Domingo, Da’Mon Vann and Brian Yates-Sharber.

As if two Channing events weren’t enough, there’s a third, and it’s doozy: the Museum of Performance & Design has mounted the first major retrospective exhibition ever mounted on the life of Channing. The exhibit, which includes the original red Hello, Dolly! dress, among many other articles from Channing’s personal collection, opens Friday, Sept. 26 and continues through March 14.

Though she’s delighted by all the attention, Channing always brings the conversation back to the arts and how important they were to her as a young person and how she’ll do everything she can to increase students’ exposure to and involvement in the arts.

“You hear stories about a father not wanting his son to be a dancer or a painter because it’s not practical and he’ll starve to death,” Channing says. “The child goes to university and the father says take a business course and focus on reading, writing and ‘rithmetic so you can support your family. But those aren’t the students getting the jobs. The ones who get the jobs are the ones exposed to the arts. Once you’re exposed to the arts, the whole world looks like art. Harry and I are witnesses to that.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

  • Tickets for the kick-off concert for Hello, Carol! A Celebration of Carol Channing are $30-$125. The show is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25 at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. Call 415-392-4400 or visit www.cityboxoffice.com.
  • The exhibit Hello, Carol! A Celebration of Carol Channing runs from Friday, Sept. 26 through March 14 at the Museum of Performance & Design, 401 Van Ness Ave., fourth floor, San Francisco. Admission is free. Visit www.mpdsf.org for information.
  • Theatre Rhinoceros’ gala benefit starring Carol Channing is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23 at the Levende Lounge, 1701 Mission St., San Francisco. Tickets are $100. Call 415-861-5079 or visit www.TheRhino.org for information.

Now here’s some wildness: Channing performing “That’s How Young I Feel” (from Mame) on “The Dean Martin Show” with Tommy Tune and the dancing ensemble from Broadway’s Seesaw.

One comment

  1. FARMINGTON — The UMF Concert Band, comprised of University of Maine at Farmington students, community members and local high school students, will perform its fall concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Nordica Auditorium at UMF’s Merrill Hall.

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