Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Bette Midler…and Me, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Sally Stott.
“You came to see this show because you like Bette Midler?” says the understatedly showbiz Sarah Travis at the beginning of this musical tribute. Yes, that’s pretty much it. Well, she explains, they’ve gone for someone cheaper: Sue Kelvin. As Sue emerges from behind the curtains, all glitz, razzmatazz and down-to-earth charm, she does indeed bare a resemblance to the Hollywood star who, she tells us, is her idol.
A fan of Midler from her childhood, growing up as an overweight teen struggling to fit in, Kelvin tells her own story and Midler’s, as well covering songs the performer has sung over the years. While both are struggling to fit in, Midler’s hanging out with Barry Manilow on the gay scene in New York and the younger Kelvin’s trying to escape Didsbury by learning the words to tracks from My Fair Lady.
In pulling together a lot of information from two such varied lives, the script struggles to find a satisfying enough focus. But Kelvin has a rich and powerful singing voice and, together with the ever-smiling Travis, creates some thrilling numbers – none more so than the theme song to the film The Rose, hauntingly delivered under the kind of white-blue light that evokes a life on the stage.
Gilded Balloon (Venue 14) until 31 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 17 August 2015
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