Thursday night brought three time Grammy Winner, four time Golden Globe Winner and three time Emmy winner Bette Midler and her brash and bawdy new show The Divine Intervention Tour to the Chicago United Center for a delightful, two hour walk down memory lane. With class, brass and loads of sass, the Divine Miss M lightened, brightened and frightened a near sell out stadium crowd. Arriving center stage on her makeshift â€œthroneâ€ Queen Bette put on a show for her legion of loyal fans: Men, Women and a series of other queens all there to share in her glory, with love. Erect in a pink mini skirt with beaded accents, the 69 year old diva started her show with the song â€œDivine Interventionâ€ and quipped â€œweâ€™re here to lift your spirits, like a boob job for your soul!â€
â€œAh, Sweet Home Chicagoâ€ Midler cooed while engaging the crowd. â€œSo good to know so many of my fans can still drive at nightâ€ she joked. Motioning to a section of the audience right off of the stage, Midler noted â€œItâ€™s like 50 shades of grey in this section right here.â€The audience continued to cheer when she teased â€œI donâ€™t know if I should sing to you or talk to you about the advantages of a reverse mortgage.â€Before starting her second song, â€œI Look Goodâ€ Midler quipped with her usual reverence, â€œI remain a triumph of science and fiction!â€ Then added â€œIâ€™m like vodka: ageless, odorless and tasteless.â€ After finishing, she shot off a quick â€œThank you for the paradeâ€ referencing the Blackhawks Championship parade from earlier in the day that brought over 1.5 million fans downtown to celebrate the Stanley Cup winning hockey champions. â€œI live for your applauseâ€ she giggled.
With a set list that taps almost every aspect of her illustrious career, this flashy and sometimes trashy performer introduced her trio of backup girls, The Infamous Harlettes; Caroline Hatchett, Nicolette Hart and Kyra DaCosta.â€œThey used to be fact checkers at Fox News. I snatched them up and nobody even noticed they were gone.â€Ripping off their black costumes to reveal flower petal pastel dresses, the ladies crooned through â€œIâ€™ve Still Got My Healthâ€ from Beaches, the Bobby Freeman cover â€œDo You Wanna Dance?â€ and â€œThrow It Away.â€A noted environmentalist, Bette commented that she throws nothing away. â€œI put the whore in Hoarderâ€ she wisecracked! On tour to promote her latest cd â€œItâ€™s the Girlsâ€ the ladies wowed with a spirited cover of the Exciters hit â€œTell Himâ€ slowed it down with lovely harmonies on the Andrew Sisters classic â€œBei Mir Bist Du Schonâ€ and then finished with Midler doing a soulful, passionate, and heartbreaking rendition of TLCâ€™s â€œWaterfalls.â€ â€œSome people rescue animals, I rescue old songsâ€ said a Midler clearly influenced by the strength and power of those classic hits.
Gearing up the self deprecating humor, Midler then had the Harlettes chase her around the stage with an oxygen tank and a red rolling couch shaped like a giant pair of lips. With this highly theatrical production, Bette collapsed on the couch to ponder contemporary celebrity culture. â€œButts have kicked Boobs to the curbâ€ she shrieked. â€œWe have gone from do these jeans make my butt look big to do these jeans make my butt look big enough?â€ â€œWe are so starved for entertainment. Itâ€™s no wonder people are taking pictures of their food!â€ If you cannot beat them, join them. In a hysterical bit, Midler exclaimed â€œI could kick myself for not having the brains to monetize my sex life!â€ and then treated the audience to hysterical photo images of her indisposed with several high profile men through the years. Of Richard Nixon she lamented â€œDonâ€™t laugh. Why do you think they called him Tricky Dick?â€ With Bruce Jenner she clamored â€œAh Caitlyn. We watched Beaches and then painted each otherâ€™s toes.â€ Finally with the entire Blackhawks hockey team, she boasted â€œthey sure can PUCK!â€ â€œRemember when people were afraid of being followed? Now theyâ€™re devastated when theyâ€™re not!â€ After tickling our ribs, Midler returned to song with stunning renditions of â€œI Think itâ€™s Going to Rain Todayâ€ fervently singing of the triumph of â€œHuman Kindness.â€
With a quick costume change, Midler emerged next as Winnie Henderson, the lead sister from the Disney Cult Halloween Classic Hocus Pocus. Joined by two Harlettes backing as the other two sisters, the trio offered up a rousing rendition of the Nina Simone song â€œIâ€™ve Put A Spell On You.â€ Adding a clever mid-song curse, Midler cracked â€œI will take all the money you made on the Hawks, and bet it on the Cubs!â€ Another quick change saw Midler and the girls emerge in Vegas showgirl bird suits to sing â€œBird in the Handâ€ and for Midler to rapid fire tell a string of raunchy Sophie Tucker jokes about â€œMy boyfriend Ernieâ€ and â€œClementineâ€ close in tow. Most of the jokes were peppered with four letter words starting with â€œFâ€ so lets just say for the next five minutes there was â€œChaos at the Club Canary!â€During the final quick change the audience was treated to a mock award show In Memoriam sequence dedicated to the recently passed character, Delores Delago, the wheelchair rolling mermaid character Midler has played on stage for years. Set to the tune of â€œThe Glory of Loveâ€ the torch was passed. Rest in peace Delores.
The final segment of the show was all music. Backed by 14 live musicians and wearing a body hugging, cleavage bearing, wine color sequin gown, proving she is still every inch a star, Bette wowed the crowd with a raucous Rolling Stones cover â€œBeast of Burdenâ€ delighted with the understated Ella Fitzgerald cover jazz standard â€œSpring Can Really Hang You Up The Mostâ€ and melted all of our hearts with hits â€œThe Roseâ€ and â€œFrom a Distance.â€ If the earlier segments proved Midler still has amazing comic timing, this last segment proved she has a soulful instrument without compare.
The deeply poignant â€œStay With Meâ€ ballad was devoted to all the people Midler has loved in the past who are â€œghostsâ€ now. And I must confess during the encore of â€œWind Beneath My Wings,â€ I had to wipe away a tear. â€œThis is for youâ€ she whispered. â€œYou gave me and my family such a wonderful life. The greatest life anyone could imagine.â€ Bette, you returned that favor by gifting your fans affecting classics that have formed the soundtrack to our lives. Never one to end on a ballad, Midler and her entire team again wowed with a spirited romp though â€œBoogie Woogie Bugle Boyâ€ that got all the audience on their feet. Simply divine, Bette!
About The Author
Stephen Best is an avid theater aficionado, attending live theater since childhood, including his first show Annie, at age 6. Since receiving a B.A. degree in Communications from Purdue University, Stephen amusingly considers himself an â€œidiot savantâ€ when it comes to the entertainment industry. Currently based in Chicago, Stephen joined the Times Square Chronicles roster of reviewers in January 2014. Prior to joining The Times Square Chronicles, Mr. Best worked at The Fort Wayne Monthly Magazine in Indiana. No one values the entertainment dollar of a theater patron more than Stephen!