THE LAST time we were in the United States, we spent much of our month-long work break traveling and watching shows in New Yorkâ€”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, â€œIâ€™ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers,â€ 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 Tinseltownâ€™s biggest, nastiest and most talented habituÃ©s, including Barbra Streisand!
Midler captured Mengersâ€™ sassy irreverence and bawdy humor. We noted in our article for this section how easily Bette turned vulgar lines into purring phrases of endearmentâ€”that requires talent, if you ask us!
The show wasnâ€™t perfectâ€”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 flubsâ€”and her adoring audience conspiratorially looked the other way!
Midlerâ€™s 18-track latest album, â€œA Gift of Love,â€ isnâ€™t perfectâ€”especially because itâ€™s being marketed as a â€œgreatest-hitsâ€ package, despite the absence of some of the recent revivals (TLCâ€™s â€œWaterfallsâ€ and The Chordettesâ€™ â€œMr. Sandmanâ€ from 2014â€™s â€œItâ€™s The Girls!â€ and the feistier numbers from â€œBeachesâ€) that effectively introduced her to younger music lovers.
Like that Broadway show, however, itâ€™s easy to forget about the albumâ€™s missteps, because Bette is an electrifying interpreterâ€”even when the songs arenâ€™t as memorable, she knows how to make their lyrics come alive!
Thankfully, her most famous ballads, â€œThe Rose,â€ â€œWind Beneath My Wings,â€ â€œFrom A Distance,â€ are part of the package, but so are â€œCome Rain or Come Shine,â€ â€œIn This Life,â€ â€œItâ€™s Too Lateâ€ and â€œEvery Road Leads Back to Youâ€ (from â€œFor The Boysâ€).
More treats: Her feisty cover of Marshall Crenshawâ€™s â€œMy Favorite Waste of Time,â€ the heart-warming â€œ(Talk to Me of) Mendocino,â€ The Marvelettesâ€™ â€œThe Hunter Gets Captured By The Gameâ€ and The Manhattansâ€™ alluring love song, â€œShining Star.â€