As far as Jewish heroes go, Bette Midler ranks among the best of them and it is this feisty, always bawdy, often tender entertainer that features at the heart of Sue Kelvin’s love letter to the star in her show Bette Midler and Me.
Kelvin is joined by Joanna Lee and Tony Award-winning musical director Sarah Travis on the piano in this distinctly cabaret show, which suits its informal tone.
The performance follows the life of Kelvin growing up in Manchester juxtaposed to her Honolulu-born idol Midler and as their lives run in parallel to much comic effect, Kelvin portrays the ups and downs of growing up as a chubby teenager with a passion for singing and acting.
The show is a vibrant boogie woogie through all the recognisable Midler anthems, including The Rose, From a Distance and The Glory of Love to name a few, showcasing Kelvin’s powerhouse presence and voice in this very relatable romp with plenty of laughs.
Having the Divine Miss M as its inspiration, one would expect the show to start with more of a bang.
Thankfully, the addition of a truly hilarious re-enactment of the entire film Beaches, in the second act, portrayed solely with puppets, really saves the show. Although Kelvin does need her sidekick Joanne Lee (who has the most beautiful voice), the performance would benefit with introducing her as a character, for without that she is a little misplaced.
Bette Midler and Me is a fun show nonetheless and one that’ll leave you swimming in happy memories and humming even happier melodies.
Bette Midler and Me arrives at The Radlett Centre on 17 October. Details: www.radlettcentre.co.uk