West End star, Sue Kelvin takes us on a roller coaster ride of the music of Bette Midler’s fabulous career, in Bette Midler and Me, documenting how the American singer’s music and exotic life helped her escape her own, turbulent home life, injecting an element of colour and song into what was a black and white life growing up in Didsbury, Manchester. The show explores how Bette inspired Sue to don seven-inch platform shoes and become a musical diva herself.
Kelvin’s co-host to this party is fresh-faced recent Emil Dale Academy graduate, Glaswegian Billie Kerr, who has a powerful range and gives a polished performance, although the stage seems too small for her to execute her obvious musical theatre training.
The pair cover songs including Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas), I Had A Dream About You, and The Rose, with gusto, and their harmonies complement each other well. Their impressive voices however at times drown out the small studio space and I can’t help but feel this performance would be better suited to a cabaret setting with the audience sitting at tables and chairs rather than watching them on a stage.
A strange element of the show is a three minutes and 52 seconds performance, with Kelvin and Kerry donning Jim Henson-type puppets to reenact the plot of the 1988 tear-jerker movie Beaches and which acts as the opportunity for them to sing Wind Beneath My Wings. It’s cheesier than cheddar and detracts from what had been a naturally flowing performance, with great storytelling, up until this point.
A beautifully conceived cabaret-style performance, Bette Midler and Me allows one consummate performer to use her musical inspiration to tell her own story. It’s a fine tale of The Glory of Love. Bette Midler fans will be enchanted.