The Daily Pilot
Bawdy ‘Best Bette’
(Published: January 26, 2006)
The ribald music and comedy of Bette Midler will be on display in Laguna Beach next weekend — even if the Divine Miss M herself, a onetime Laguna resident, won’t be.
Laguna’s No Square Theater is kicking off its 2006 season next weekend with a tribute to Midler entitled “Best Bette: The Bette Midler Songbook,” at the Artists Theater of Laguna Beach High School.
“I don’t know another singer who has put her stamp on such a wide range of material,” says No Square board member Chris Quilter.
“She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s deep and she’s at her very best on stage.”
The No Square concert will showcase “the best of her best,” ranging from her hit movie “The Rose” to such numbers as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “From a Distance.”
The show will feature 25 cast members under the direction of No Square founding board member Bree Burgess Rosen.
“They are a terrific bunch, and we are blessed to have their gracious selves,” Rosen said. The cast includes two other founders of the No Square troupe — Roxanna Eard and Pat Kollenda, whom Rosen calls “a huge part of our history.
They are fabulous performers, and it’s such a treat to have them back for ‘Best Bette.'”
The show, however, comes with a warning label. Since Midler’s concerts also feature the X-rated humor of Sophie Tucker — the “last of the red hot mamas” — No Square has issued a parental advisory to those of “tender years or tender ears.” Sophie Tucker jokes will be told.
“The concert is a valentine to Bette,” Quilter explains. “It has to be unexpurgated.”
While “Best Bette” isn’t recommended for children, No Square has a project lined up for August that definitely will be.
It’s the Orange County premiere of the musical “Narnia,” ticketed for the school auditorium Aug. 4 to 6.
“Narnia,” based on the writings of C.S. Lewis about a magical land accessed through a wardrobe, will be directed by Linda Haylett, a veteran performer known for her work with local children.
“There already is a lot of community interest in the musical,” noted Lloyd Charton, president of the No Square board. “The music is beautiful and it’s a wonderful story of good versus evil that works on every level.”
The musical production will be preceded by a month-long Square Roots theater camp for kids, under Haylett’s direction.
“Parents are always looking for healthy, fun activities for their kids,” Charton said. “Community theater offers a rare opportunity. Our kids learn poise, stage presence, song and dance and acting — all while having a blast.”
Meanwhile, No Square is gearing up for “Best Bette,” which will be presented Feb. 3 and 4 at 8 p.m. at the high school, 625 Park Ave.
Tickets are $20 and are available through www.nosquare.org or at the door by cash or check. More information is available at (949) 715-0333, but no tickets will be sold by telephone.