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Divinely Bette

Originally posted at BroadwayBaby.com


To perform a Bette Midler tribute show is risky. Bette has big shoes to fill vocally and charismatically. Kim Sheard as Bette certainly succeeded in the latter. Her cheeky persona was a wonderful emulation of Ms Midler, never losing character even commenting after having a drink how hard work it is to carry “these things around” – referring of course to Bette’s famous, and often mentioned within the show: tits. Vocally however the performance was more troublesome. While the enunciation of words was a perfect imitation of the original, there were moments of pitchiness throughout. The trademark belts within the songs also became more of a shout that fell off key. In such an intimate venue this can be difficult to listen to. However the infectious personality of the performer and the heart put into the ballads meant this seemed to be forgiven by the audience who met each end of a song with rapturous applause.

Where Sheard really shone was in the comedy side of the character. The show is filled with songs with witty asides to the audience inbetween and towards the end we were treated to some storytelling in character. These stories were set ups for jokes and indulged in Bette’s raucous humour but also her ability to mock herself. Comedy songs such as one detailing the invention of the bra would please even non-Bette fans.

If you have no prior knowledge of Bette Midler I wouldn’t use this as your introduction: somewhat to do with the vocal prowess of the performer but also because of the nature of a tribute show. However fans with prior knowledge of Bette’s career would no doubt enjoy this show. It’s free and its undeniably fun. Sheard kept us all laughing but then would draw us into moments of vulnerability for songs like ‘The Rose’ and ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’. Maybe die hard fans of Bette would be less forgiving of vocal misgivings but they surely would also revel in this on point tribute to their idol.

Laughing Horse @ The Hobgoblin. 5 - 7th, May 15:15 - 16:15, 19:00 - 20:00, 25th May 21:30 - 22:30, 26th - 27th May 15:15 - 16:15, 27th May 21:30 - 22:30. Free.

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