BootLeg Betty

Review: Bette Midler and Robin Williams at The Beacon Theatre, Nov 19th
A Benefit for The Parkside School in New York City

Mister D: Thank you Richie for sharing this evening with all of us. Very much appreciated!

Bette Brightens Beacon Benefit
November 19, 2005
by Rich Blumberg

What a glorious night..

The Beacon Theatre is gorgeous, intimate, has great acoustics, less than 3000 seats and one that Bette has never performed in.

The show started about 8 pm, with a filmed bio about the Parkside School.

After the touching mini-documentary, out strolled Robert De Niro and his wife Grace Hightower De Niro. They talked about the wonderful things that made Parkside such a special place for children. They were followed by Paula Zahn and her husband who discussed their child and how much they appreciated Parkside, followed by some people from the school itself. Praises to Parkside lasted about 30 minutes.

Then Robert De Niro came back and introduced Robin Williams who was HYSTERICAL! and manic as ever, talking about the Greek godlike sculptures in the theatre, then the next minute discussing different types of energy sources. Somehow that segued into a cell phone moment with him being the cell phone that had faxes coming out of his ass.

He discussed the Pope (new and old) and wondered what if the pope was Afro-American, “Pope Diddy.” He lamented on about how he felt for the priests who must be celibate but spend endless hours in little boxes (confessionals) listening to everyone else discuss their sex lives…no wonder they’re horny…priceless!

Robin had the crowd in stitches for about 35 minutes…

And Then:

He announced the Divine Miss Bette Midler…and from behind the black curtain you heard the beginnings of “Friends.” The curtain parted and there she was dressed in jeans, white heels, gold blouse, and a green vest. Her hair had been pulled up the way she looked on the Hurricane Relief special.. kind of like a round french twist, like a halo…Well there she was with her staggering Harlettes, Bette Sussman, and a 6 piece band.. She sounded and looked great. She sang the full version of “Friends.”

She acknowledged the Parkside School saying the other divas were out of town so they called me..then proceeded to sing her own version of “People” which I am sure was written by Eric Kornfeld. The song was a spoof designed to let everyone know that Bette does lot’s of benefits for anyone who is sick, whether it’s menopause , a rash, or to clean up trash..the song was very funny.

Next up, was “From A Distance”, which sounded marvelous, enunciating every word to make sure those that paid up to 3500.00 understood that it was more than a song. That brought the second standing ovation (the first was after “Friends”). Ever the pitch woman, she said she needed to plug her latest record “Bette Midler Sings The Peggy Lee Songbook” and sang “Fever” while everyone snapped their fingers.

She told a joke, ( or tried to,) about climbing a hill, and fell flat on her face…She knew it, and joked about it flopping , and repeated it, still nothing…but instead of giving up, it became the mantra for the evening…Because later in the show she asked where was she climbing? The audience screamed,”the hill!”…Bette was happy that the joke had a whole new meaning, and the audience loved how she managed to save a bad joke….

Next she sang “Some Peoples Lives”, introducing it by saying some of her songs lie in drawers forever and she finds them occasionally…and deemed this one perfect for the night, I was kinda hoping it would have been ” Hello in There”, however this rendition had the audience in the palm of her hands.

Then came comedy/Soph bits introduced by singing “Pretty Legs, Great Big Knockers” and proceeded to fire off at least 10 gems from the vault..the Vase, The Bocca Parking Space , Clementine, Soph and the Flasher , The Doc, Cold and Underwear, Kevin, the Nun and Ernie…And the joke about the chiwawawa and doberman helping the blind Soph and Clementine into a restaurant.

By now she had been on stage about 40 minutes and proceeded to sing the song she said we were waiting for…”Wind Beneath My Wings” was flawless..She left the stage with the audience on their feet, like always, milking the audience just a little more. She came back out, introducing her band, singers and the “other” Bette. (Ms. Sussman) Sitting on the floor, saying she was tired, requesting we sing the next song, “The Rose.”

We did..and she didn’t …however, a surprise was lurking in the wings… As the sing-a-long continued, Bette seemed truly amazed at how well we were all doing…But, the audience started laughing…Bette had no clue why, until she noticed Robin Williams onstage using “sign language” as we sang…Once Bette saw that, she lost it and was hysterical.

She made Robin stay on stage while she sang “The Rose.” He began to dance around like a bad, funny ballet dancer, lifting Bette up while she was still singing. He gave her his coat and she ended the song with Robin standing behind her with his hand at her crotch, kind of like he was covering that part of her anatomy up…Hysterical. The audience had stood through the entire song.
A very classic moment, which I hope someone filmed.

Then it was over after almost 1 hour on the stage, 8 songs, and 10+ jokes…It was one of her better performances and she seemed to be having a ball.

Considering the invite said the entire show would be only one hour, everyone was very happy.

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