BootLeg Betty

BetteBack August 30, 1993: Divine Midler Still A Wonder to Behold – Clinton should just declare her the National Diva

Chicago Sun-Times
Divine Midler Still A Wonder to Behold // Show Hits Town This Weekend
August 30, 1993 | Susan Wloszczyna

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COLUMBIA, Md. Oh, come let us adore her.

Like the star of wonder she is, Bette Midler entered the Merriweather Post Pavilion last Wednesday night from on high. As she lustily belted “Friends,” her divine form was gently lowered to mere mortal level.

It’s been a decade since Midler’s last major tour, and the faithful aren’t just hungry, they’re starved. Thank goodness she has more than enough dish in her to go around: “Ten years. Time flies when you’re on Prozac. Well enough about you, what about me?”

They can beat her, whip her, shove syrupy adult-contemporary ballads down her throat and make her do dopey Disney movies. But the fact is, you haven’t truly experienced eminent Miss M until you’ve seen her in the sweaty flesh, shaking her boogie-woogie booty and straining for those high notes for two song-jammed hours.

Midler brings her show to Poplar Creek in Hoffman Estates on Sept. 3-4. Sleek as a seal, the 47-year-old entertainer looks more Beverly Hills madam than bathhouse broad. Or as she succinctly describes herself, “So rich, so cheap.” But she can still carry just about any tune – Broadway, rap, sap – to the moon and back again.

Fans will recognize the usual trash-and-flash trappings. There’s still a trio of backup singers (“the politically correct Harlettes“), joined by four even tartier dancers. Midler still slinks into her Dolores de Lago mermaid persona (now with her own infomercial).

All was not divinity. Though the ode to burlesque had its moments, it was little more than a plug for Midler’s upcoming “GypsyTV special. The old material (especially a gospel-charged “Delta Dawn” and a heart-tugging “Hello in There”) clearly outshone the new. The humidity took a toll, reducing Bette to limp noodleness.

Yet Midler hasn’t lost her knack for making expertly choreographed extravaganzas seem like spontaneous combustions. Clinton should just declare her the National Diva.

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