August 13, 2008
Devout fans from all walks of life gawked in awe as the Divine Ms. M first graced the stage of the new Venue theatre with her tantalizingly sassy rendition of "Kiss My Brass". With her uniquely aggressive humor, she opened the show by declaring, "I've finally made it! I'm performing in the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana!" The crowd, a good chunk of which hailed from Indiana, loved every minute of it. "Thirty years ago my audiences were on drugs. Now they're on medication," she commented when finding her lifelong groupies in the front row.
She is a divalicious Broadway, film, and music legend that is all too rare these days. Her lovingly brazen personality couples with her exceptional vocal chords to provide a performance experience that is absolutely exceptional. It also makes you understand how this former 'Bathhouse Betty' went onto win four Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, three Emmys, and a Tony.
Her scaled-down adaptation of Caesar Palace's "The Showgirl Must Go On" included the live Horseshoe Band and Midler's own "Harlette" trio of multi-talented chorus girls. Providing vocal harmonies that perfectly cushioned Midler's brassier sound, the Harlettes assisted the diva in performing such greats as "For the Boys", "Stuff Like That There", and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B".
Having yearned to be a showgirl since she was a young woman, Midler capitalizes on the fun and frenzy to be found in the cheap and tacky. With sexy costume pieces and sets galore, every part of the show simply dazzles. Oh and trust me, she's not afraid to tell a few jokes that will make your grandmother want to do more than blush.
Also, I must give the designers and architects over at the Horseshoe some much deserved kudos. The performance space at the new Venue theatre catered to Midler's sequined affairs while also providing an uncommon sense of musical intimacy.
Midler seized the stage alone to belt out her most famous, captivating ballads. The audience fell completely silent and reverent during such greats as "The Rose", "From a Distance", and "The Wind Beneath My Wings". Midler proved herself an unequaled pro at presenting some of the kitschiest numbers to date while simultaneously reeling the audience in for more humanistic and affecting pieces.
She is both flashy and poignant, hilarious and severe. Experiencing such a seasoned legend perform the hits that have made her nearly immortal is nothing short of marvelous. Her fans know it too; so if you're planning a trip to Vegas anytime soon, be sure to book in advance.
Touting herself as the "People's Diva" (because she actually sings- a rarity in this day in age, she reminds), Ms. Midler simply ate up the stage, and the audience was mesmerized every step of the way. But don't worry if you were unable to make the trek out to our neighboring state; Midler has declared that she has no plans to retire anytime soon. She is one of the industry's last remaining illustrious stars, and long may she reign.
Written By: Alissa Norby for ShowBizQ