A pink tornado projected onto screens heralds Bette Midlerâ€™s arrival onto the stage of Londonâ€™s O2, before she promises to â€œlift our spirits, like a boob job for the soulâ€. 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 showâ€™s title, and introduces us to her on-stage band and trio of impressive backing singers, she moves on to sing Cole Porterâ€™s Iâ€™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 sheâ€™s up for having some fun. Itâ€™s infectious.
The singing is superb â€“ she is vocally rich and strong â€“ but equally as entertaining are the comic interludes. Here Midler is uproariously funny. Thereâ€™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 â€˜conquestsâ€™. There are photos of Midler with Jamie Oliver (â€œHe told me I had to eat in a healthier way, so I wrapped his penis in a lettuce leafâ€) and Boris Johnson (â€œI went to ride on one of his bikesâ€¦next thing I know Iâ€™m riding Borisâ€).
If this makes it seem that Midler is all about being bawdy, sheâ€™s not. Just as she has you shaking with laughter, sheâ€™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 showbusinessâ€™ most enduring stars.
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