THE LAST time we were in the United States, we spent much of our month-long work break traveling and watching shows in New York–26 of them, to be exact. We loved a lot of them, but a few productions stood out due to their staging innovations and thematic boldness.
One of our favorites was the 90-minute, one-woman gabfest, “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers,” which was especially notable for us because it starred no less than the Divine Miss M herself, Bette Midler. As Hollywood super-agent Sue Mengers, she dished about Tinseltown’s biggest, nastiest and most talented habituÃ©s, including Barbra Streisand!
Midler captured Mengers’ sassy irreverence and bawdy humor. We noted in our article for this section how easily Bette turned vulgar lines into purring phrases of endearment–that requires talent, if you ask us!
The show wasn’t perfect–in fact, during the preview performance we caught at the Booth Theatre, Midler forgot her lines twice and had to ask the stage manager to prompt her!
But, the seasoned performer seemed unaffected by her flubs–and her adoring audience conspiratorially looked the other way!
Midler’s 18-track latest album, “A Gift of Love,” isn’t perfect–especially because it’s being marketed as a “greatest-hits” package, despite the absence of some of the recent revivals (TLC’s “Waterfalls” and The Chordettes’ “Mr. Sandman” from 2014’s “It’s The Girls!” and the feistier numbers from “Beaches”) that effectively introduced her to younger music lovers.
Like that Broadway show, however, it’s easy to forget about the album’s missteps, because Bette is an electrifying interpreter–even when the songs aren’t as memorable, she knows how to make their lyrics come alive!
Thankfully, her most famous ballads, “The Rose,” “Wind Beneath My Wings,” “From A Distance,” are part of the package, but so are “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “In This Life,” “It’s Too Late” and “Every Road Leads Back to You” (from “For The Boys”).
More treats: Her feisty cover of Marshall Crenshaw’s “My Favorite Waste of Time,” the heart-warming “(Talk to Me of) Mendocino,” The Marvelettes’ “The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game” and The Manhattans’ alluring love song, “Shining Star.”