Monthly Archives: March 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017

Bette Midler On Her Parents:

Bette Midler On Her Parents: “My mother was very showbiz. Not my father. His idea of showbiz is Lawrence Welk. He adores Lawrence Welk. My mother loved television. She used to send us to the movies and she was particular about the movies she’d send us to. No dramas. No horror movies. As a result, I never saw a horror movie until I was 22. My folks, you see, like hula dancing, but not the darker things in life. (Springfield Union, September 1, 1976) Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup
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Review: Dolly Levi and Bette Midler are back where they belong By Todd Sussman

Dolly Levi and Bette Midler are back where they belong A review of Hello, Dolly! on Broadway – March 23, 2017 preview performance By Todd Sussman   2017-03-15_8-01-22   Caution: This posting contains spoilers. Bette Midler has brought top notch pizzazz back to Broadway in the new Hello, Dolly!…now in previews.  A bigger-than-life performance in a lavish show is just what is needed at this time, and, by golly, this Dolly has it all. The costumes are breathtakingly beautiful.  The sets are gorgeous…especially that Act II Harmonia Gardens red carpet stairway.  The scenic designer and the costume designer are one and the same person, Santo Loquasto.  Look for his name twice on Tony night. We all know the songs…other Broadway shows would be lucky to have even one song the audience could hum on the way out of the theater, and Dolly is packed with them.  Thank you, Jerry Herman.  And Larry Hochman’s orchestrations are vibrant.  I cannot wait for the cast album of this. Then there is Bette.  If she can bring the sparkle to her one-woman monologue in 2013’s I’ll Eat You Last, wait till you see what she does with Dolly Levi.  Her performance is delicious.  Nobody, but nobody, will be able to deny that she has one of Broadway’s all-time greatest moments as she descends the stairs in the aforementioned Harmonia scene.  Soon after, she also mines her feast on a turkey leg for every last laugh possible as she devours the meal, even holding the gravy boat up for a sip.  This is pure Bette.  That extended reading of the scene is not in the Streisand movie.  Another spoiler:  It is nothing short of ingenious the way Bette remains seated at her dinner table when the rest of the cast has transitioned to the courtroom scene.  This would not work in a movie, but it is poetic license on a Broadway stage…and it works! Of course, there will be the inevitable comparisons of Barbra and Bette since they have occupied the same role.   However, neither needs to worry.  There is clearly room for both.  First of all, Barbra, with history’s (arguably) greatest singing voice, filmed the movie in her early 20s.  Bette is now 71, and she still makes the score sound fantastic.  She’s still got it.  Ironically, some critics chided Barbra as being too young for the part…and you may hear a few say Bette is too old.  Yet — due to their acting skills and charisma – they both make it work.  Ageism and reverse ageism be damned.  I look forward to seeing backstage photos the night Barbra sees this show, which I am certain she will. By the way, Barbra infused her Dolly with a tinge of Mae West.  Bette opts for a tinge of Sophie Tucker here and there…and in many places, some welcome Midlerisms. There was pre-production chatter that Bette may include “Just Leave Everything To Me” – written especially for Barbra and the movie.  Not the case.  “I Put My Hand In” remains her opening number, faithful to the Carol Channing show.  However, both songs have the same introduction – “I have always been a woman who arranges things…”  For a moment, fans of the film may have assumed otherwise. Bette’s co-stars are also up for the chore.  David Hyde Pierce makes an ample foil for Dolly’s antics…and if his Horace Vandergelder sounds a bit Walter Matthau-ish, that is a fine homage to the film.  Gavin Creel and Taylor Trensch (as Cornelius and Barnaby) are the funniest tall/short duo since Dorothy and Sophia in Golden Girls.   Gavin – who is as nice in real life as he is in inhabiting this character – has his own great “It Only Takes A Moment” here. The girls also shine.  Kate Baldwin, Beanie Feldstein, Melanie Moore, and Jennifer Simard all make their roles and characters memorable – bringing their A-game.  Of course, you would have to when you are working opposite Midler. If Bette doesn’t win the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical this June, then it is due to off-stage politics.  I do not see how any other actress this season can top her performance – especially since Glenn Close in a return to her Tony-winning Sunset Blvd. performance is not eligible to be nominated again for the same role. By the way, those attending early previews (they are continuing through late April) may see mega producer Scott Rudin hanging out in the back of the theater, overseeing every detail on stage…and even putting his two cents in to the ushers as they seat people.  Talk about hands on.  But that is a good thing…God is in the details. I also want to thank Dolly dresser Holly – not Lolly, who is also listed in the Playbill.  Holly and I were subway seat neighbors and she exemplifies everything wonderful about being part of a Broadway production. If you do not have a ticket yet to see this show, do whatever it takes to get one.  
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Bette Midler On Being Compared To Mae West:

Bette Midler On Being Compared To Mae West: “I got a lot of inspiration from Mae West. When I first started working, a friend brought one of her records over. Through it all, Mae West was a source of pleasure. I love her, She was quite marvelous. She was also quite independent, which I liked. So the first time I worked on television I did one of her songs. I’ve also been compared to Barbra Streisand. That’s flattering, although I don’t see the comparison myself. (Springfield Union, September 1, 1976) Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling
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1995 – Stardust – Tribute To Joe Layton – Bette Midler

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Bette Midler Exiting Dolly

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It Only Takes a Moment: Bette Midler’s Gracious Gesture

The Broadway Blog It Only Takes a Moment: Bette Midler’s Gracious Gesture March 30th, 2017 By Matthew Wexler 2017-03-16_10-31-34 It’s no surprise that Bette Midler’s Broadway arrival is generating big buzz. Hello, Dolly! producers reported a record-breaking $9 million in first-day sales. But what happened during last night’s preview—though small news for some—shows just how classy this diva is. Merely two weeks into previews, actor Gavin Creel, who plays Cornelius Hackl, was unable to perform, catapulting understudy Christian Dante White (Shuffle Along…, The Scottsboro Boys, The Book of Mormon) into the exhilarating opportunity to take on the role. They say the show must go on, and so it did… flawlessly. Anyone who has worked in the theater knows that understudies are notoriously under-rehearsed, often left to watch from the wings and move through the action during separate rehearsals with the stage manager. A “plug-in” usually happens the day that the understudy is to go on, or is often the case, mere hours before the performance. dcw Without going into great detail as Hello, Dolly! is still in previews, let’s just say that White was a charmer and a consummate professional. And it wasn’t only the audience that took notice. The Grammy Award-winning Midler, who herself received a standing ovation mid-show and thunderous applause at the curtain call, took a step to the side and ushered forth White to take the final bow. The sense of support among the cast was palpable.Anyone who has worked in the theater knows that understudies are notoriously under-rehearsed, often left to watch from the wings and move through the action during separate rehearsals with the stage manager. A “plug-in” usually happens the day that the understudy is to go on, or is often the case, mere hours before the performance. Midler is a class act, and if you can snag a ticket, Hello, Dolly! promises to be a revival for the record books.
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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bette Midler uses Australian icon to slam Trump

Start At 60 Bette Midler uses Australian icon to slam Trump March 29, 2017 bette-midler-barrier-reef-720x379 The actress has made her feelings about Trump clear. Hollywood favourite Bette Midler has named an Australian icon in her latest attack on US president Donald Trump. The actress took to Twitter to slam Trump for his executive order to reverse a range of America’s climate change policies, saying he was contributing to the deterioration of The Great Barrier Reef. “#GreatBarrierReef is dead because of warming oceans, & #Trump rolls back climate change regulations. Short-sighted. Dim witted. PLAIN EVIL,” she wrote on her official Twitter page. =&0=&@BetteMidler

is dead because of warming oceans, & rolls back climate change regulations. Short-sighted. Dim witted. PLAIN EVIL.

Trump announced his new energy strategy overnight, ditching former president Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which aimed to slash carbon emissions from power plants across the country to help meet the Paris climate change accord. The new Energy Independence order aims to revive drilling and mining across America and reintroduce coal as a major source of power. “I am taking historic steps to lift restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Mr Trump said at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters. Midler, who was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton, has been an outspoken critic of Trump since he took office. She often vents her frustrations against him on social media and pokes fun at his administration.

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Bette Midler On Her Life:

Bette Midler On Her Life: “Right now I’m only worried about getting through the day.” (Evening Star, March 11, 1976) Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing
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2014 – Bette Midler Interviews Barbra Walters On The View

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‘Hello, Dolly!’ Rocks Broadway Box Office

Forbes ‘Hello, Dolly!’ Rocks Broadway Box Office Lee Seymour , CONTRIBUTOR MAR 27, 2017 @ 08:05 PM Bette Midler in 'Hello, Dolly!' Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

Julieta Cervantes

Bette Midler in ‘Hello, Dolly!‘ Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

Bette Midler continues her assured, seemingly effortless takeover of Broadway’s box office. Her revival of Hello, Dolly! grossed an impressive $1.67 million off just six performances this week. The show has a massive advance of over $40 million already, and the average seat will cost you $194 – the second-most expensive on Broadway, behind Hamilton. Sara Bareilles is also causing waves as she prepares to take over the lead role in Waitress from Tony winner Jessie Mueller. As Mueller played her final full week, fans flocked and Waitress’s box office leaped above the $1 million threshold for the first time since New Year‘s. Given the sizable advance Bareilles has racked up, expect Waitress’s numbers to stay high through an otherwise brutal awards season. And it will be brutal. Eighteen shows, both plays and musicals, will have opened in March and April. Only a handful will stay open through June. This week alone, 13 shows grossed over $1 million. Broadway’s consumer base is somewhat fixed – attendance has hovered just above 13 million the last two seasons, and with a flat average ticket price of $103. The numbers are still robust and are useful talking points for those arguing against arts funding reduction, but they do highlight Broadway’s current ceiling. Some shows break conventions – namely Hamilton, which had another $3 million week – but most shows fall within the constraints of supply and demand: there are only so many seats in a given theater, and only so many people are willing to pay top dollar to sit in them. We are currently approaching that ceiling for the non-holiday season. Easter will bring a massive boost in two weeks, after which it’ll be a bloody free-for-all as new shows compete for the same limited pockets, and existing ones double-down on their fanbases and wait for the summer tourists to come calling. So far, a few shows are standing out. Anastasia, which grossed an excellent $629,000 its first four performances, has an advance big enough to extend ticket sales through 2018 already (the produce have yet to confirm an exact number). Come From Away keeps creeping up ($941,000 this week), and fall holdovers Dear Evan Hansen and Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet continue to sit comfortably in the $1 Million Club. Others are still question marks. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory was a bomb in London, but new director Jack O’Brien has revamped it for New York with new star Christian Borle. Bandstand is the latest from Papermill Playhouse, which developed both this season’s hit A Bronx Tale ($867,000 this week) and 2015’s disastrous Honeymoon in Vegas.  War Paint has grossed about 70% of its potential each week since beginning previews, while Amelie has declined from 75% to 60% over the same time span. Groundhog Day, in its first full week since a unique first preview, took just over half. Buzz is good for the London transfer, but it won’t be enough for Punxsutawney Phil if it doesn’t translate into sales soon. Plays are getting the short shrift. Only two (The Price and Present Laughter) have big stars to anchor them – The Price is taking about three-quarters of its gross potential, but Present Laughter is below half, despite Kevin Kline’s charm. The rest are stagnant. The Glass Menagerie, though igniting excellent conversation about disabilities on stage, is proving more divisive than enticing. The Play That Goes Wrong has a solid advance (and is, for my money, the funniest show of the season), but it’s still only taking about half its gross potential. Overall the week was a good one for the biz, with sales up 8% from last week, to a total of $32.45 million.
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