BootLeg Betty

The Producer: Bette Midler Sashays Onto The Great White Way

New York Daily News
MARCH 17, 2011 11:06
The Producer: Bette Midler is the windfall beneath “Priscilla”‘s wings
By Joe Dziemianowicz

It’s the morning after seeing “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” last night on Broadway and I’ve still got “Don’t Leave Me This Way” in my brain and a pink ping pong ball in my messenger bag. If you’ve seen the movie the show is based on you have an idea of how that little ball figures into things — but that’s all I’m saying.

Last Sunday, in my feature story about the show, I mentioned that there are hundreds of costumes in “Priscilla.” Reading the Playbill, there are about as many producers and investors. The marquee name in that long roster is, of course, Bette Midler, who’s no stranger to Broadway. She acted in “Fiddler on the Roof” in the mid-60s, and performed three solo shows in the 70s. “Priscilla” is her first producing credit on the Great White Way.

The last time I wrote about the Divine one, she was the queen of the desert — starring in “The Showgirl Must Go On” (pictured) at Caesars Palace, which I reviewed on opening night in 2008. What came through in that show, and throughout her career, is that Midler’s soul shines through even when there’s tons of camp, a sea of sequins and maniac mermaid tails.

*****

The Great White Way is a nickname for a section of Broadway in the Midtown section of the New York City, specifically the portion that encompasses the Theatre District, between 42nd and 53rd Streets.

Nearly a mile of Broadway was illuminated in 1880 by Brush arc lamps, making it among the first electrically lighted streets in the United States.

The headline “Found on the Great White Way” appeared in the February 3, 1902, edition of the New York Evening Telegram.

The journalistic sobriquet was inspired by the millions of lights on theater marquees and billboard advertisements that illuminate the area, especially around Times Square.

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