A pink tornado projected onto screens heralds Bette Midler’s arrival onto the stage of London’s O2, before she promises to “lift our spirits, like a boob job for the soul”. Two hours later, she more than fulfils that promise, bringing with her an energetic and vibrant mix of songs and stand-up, all wrapped together in a supremely entertaining show that is every bit as divine as its title suggests.
After an opening number that takes the show’s title, and introduces us to her on-stage band and trio of impressive backing singers, she moves on to sing Cole Porter’s I’ve Still Got My Health. And she clearly does. Midler, dressed in a short pink dress, totters around the stage, effortlessly engaging and beguiling as she approaches her 70th birthday.
This being Midler the show oozes theatricality, no segment more so than a tribute to her 1993 film Hocus Pocus. After an intro of lightning strikes and flashing lights, against a projected image of a haunted house, Midler appears dressed as her character Winnie. Complete with fake teeth and red wig, she sings I Put a Spell On You and shows us she’s up for having some fun. It’s infectious.
The singing is superb ”“ she is vocally rich and strong ”“ but equally as entertaining are the comic interludes. Here Midler is uproariously funny. There’s a particularly delicious skit in which, having referenced US reality TV stars the Kardashians, Midler unveils a series of mocked-up selfies featuring her own recent ”˜conquests’. There are photos of Midler with Jamie Oliver (“He told me I had to eat in a healthier way, so I wrapped his penis in a lettuce leaf”) and Boris Johnson (“I went to ride on one of his bikes”¦next thing I know I’m riding Boris”).
If this makes it seem that Midler is all about being bawdy, she’s not. Just as she has you shaking with laughter, she’ll have you crying to one of her ballads. The Rose and The Wind Beneath My Wings are performed flawlessly, with tenderness.
This is a show that delivers on every level, and reminds you why Midler is one of showbusiness’ most enduring stars.
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