BootLeg Betty

BetteBack September 16,1993: Miss M Back Without Missing A Beat

THE STARS AND STRIPES
FACES’N’PLACES
Thursday. September 16,1993

Bad sign:.The c u r t a in for Bette Midler‘s six-week eng a g eme nt at New York City’s
Rad io City Music Hall has a s c hma l t zy p i nk rose on a f i e l d, o f – b l u e ,” surrounded  by w h i te polka dots.

Is it too l a t e? Has the r aucous, n a u g h ty Divine Miss M been hopelessly homogenized a f t er too m a ny years in Hollywood, w o r k i ng for Wa lt Disney?

Then t he c u r t a in l i f ts a nd f o ur s c a n t i ly clad f e m a le h e r a l ds a p p e a r. Mu s ic begins, a n o t h er c u r t a in p a r ts and t h e re she i s, s u s p e n d ed h i gh above the stage in f r o nt of a g i a nt s u n, s p l e n d id in gold lame.

I t ‘s t he same old Bette.

“I bet you d i d n ‘t expect, me to look q u i te t h is fabulous,” she said in g r e e t i ng h er
o p e n i n g – n i g ht audi ence Tuesday. “I bet you we re expe c t ing a . .. beefier person.”

Thus began 2 hours of s e emingly boundle ss energy and e n t h u s i a sm. Midl er — who ha s t r t ipor ed in 10 ye a rs — retakes the stage as if she n€ver left, b e l t i ng out the ballads, bouncing through the l ighthearted n umb e r s, c r a cking jokes old and new, s t r u t t i ng about and s t r i k i ng poses l i ke the veteran voguer she is.

Maybe the voice at 47 isn’t quite as strong as it used tp be, especially on the slow numbers. More than once, especially in the f i r st act, she put her hand to her throat as if to help coax out a tough note. And the annoying echo c r e a t ed by the sound system in the cavernous Radio City d i d n ‘t help.

But the s t a r – s tudded audi ence — i n c l u d i ng Lauren Bacall, k.d. lang, Chuck Norris; Mary Tyler Moore, Madeline Kahn, Joan Collins, Calvin Klein, Mike Myers, Cyndi Lanpcr, Mike Wallace, David Geffen and Donald Sutherland — h a r d ly seemed to not i c e, j u m ping up for s t a n d i ng ovations h a lf a dozen times.

Midler sang the r e c ent h i ts — Wind ‘Beneath My Wings a nd From a Distance — t h at
r e – established her r e cording career. She also acted out Rose’s Turn, the w r e n c h i ng f i n al n u m b er from the Broadway musical Gypsy, w h i ch she f i l m ed to air on CBS in December.

But the-show-stoppers were two oldies from the ’70s: the Helen Rcddy-Tanya Tucker a n t h em Delta Dawn, w h i ch she delivered in rousing gospel style, and a tort u r ed blues number,-, Stay With Me, f rom her first movie, The Rose.

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