BetteBack August 26, 1993: Finally, After 10 Years … Midler! (Review -ETD)

The Washington Post
Finally, After 10 Years … Midler!
August 26, 1993 | Joe Brown


You show up on time for a Bette Midler show, because even though any true diva is sure to be late, you don’t want to miss The Entrance.

Last night at the first of two sold-out performances at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Midler made an entrance worth the 10- year wait.

Silvery Busby Berkeley chorines stepped from behind the rose curtain to blow a fanfare (a strain of “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy” was detectable). As the curtain slowly opened to reveal a pastel cloud, The Voice appeared, singing “And I am all alone …” The clouds parted and there she was, in a sunburst swing and beaming a Cheshire Cat grin.

“I bet you didn’t expect me to look so fabulous!” said Midler. “I bet you expected a beefier person, someone with buck teeth, red hair and a broom. Well, give it up – boys and girls admit it – I look good!,” she said, going into a rap number by that name.

And she did. Though her audience seems to have grown Midler-aged, she looked svelte in a clingy violet tunic with silver-strapped shoes.

She sounded swell too, glorying in her rich, grand lady voice, sailing into “those inspirational ballads you love me for,” including “The Rose,” “From a Distance” and of course “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Midler belted and wailed through “Delta Dawn” and an all-stops-out, stay-all-night version of “Stay With Me, Baby.” And, reminding us all that she is first a creature of the stage, she tore through a pair of show-stoppers from her upcoming TV musical “Gypsy.”

Of course, even though she and her loyal audience have both achieved hard-won sophistication and respectability, it wouldn’t be a Midler show without this: “So, Baltimore and D.C., whaddya say? The Orioles meet the Twins,” she said, thrusting out her iconic bosom for the boys. Midler even beat Madonna’s upcoming fall “Girlie Show” tour to the punch with her topless, tasseled Verities dancers and always- bawdy backing trio, the Staggering Harlettes.

Act 2 of the three-hour show saw the return of Midler’s flipped- out little mermaid “Delores Del Lago” in her motorized wheelchair, selling an infomercial for her unprintable “12-stroke program” and jiggling through a raft of ’70s oldies in starfish top and (fish)tails.

And before it was all over, Midler even dusted off a few Sophie Tucker jokes: “I’ll never forget it, you know …”

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