Review: Bette takes tacky to supreme

Starting up again in June, Bette Midler is putting on a really big show at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

The Divine Miss M, calling herself “the people’s diva,” has smoothly taken the reins from Celine Dion as mistress of the massive 4,200-seat Colosseum theater with “The Showgirl Must Go On.”

Midler has crafted a spectacle with longtime fans in mind. She opens the show by saying, “Thirty years ago, my audiences were on drugs, now they’re on medication.”

Midway through the performance, calling herself “the oldest living showgirl in the world,” she cries out, “Come back, Celine Dion” with an aside, “How did she do this for five years?”

Despite the joking, Midler is clearly up to the task, at the helm of a 90-minute extravaganza. There are no French-Canadian circus performers, but there are plenty of leggy chorus girls (“The Caesar Salad girls”) backing her in some appealingly classic Las Vegas-style production numbers.

Midler’s famous bad taste couldn’t be more perfect for Sin City. She proudly proclaims, “I opened the door for bad singers with trashy taste, and don’t you forget it.”

Of course, she’s anything but a bad singer. The concert’s set list showcases her pop hits, from the up-tempo retro tunes (“Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “In The Mood”) to the big-finish ballads (“From a Distance,” “The Rose,” “Wind Beneath My Wings”).

Her 13-piece, horn-infused band and backup singers, the Harlettes, sound fantastic; the showactually might benefit from some more “straight” music to complement the high jinks.

She tells bawdy stories, and reprises some of her classic characters, including Delores Delago, the wheelchair-riding mermaid, in a bit that goes on a little too long.

Adorably brash, she encourages folks in the audience not to sing along — and they happily submit.

“Showgirl” is the perfect vehicle for Midler’s sass and charm. Don’t go expecting a soulful intensity, but do get ready for glitter, goofiness and glamour.

IF YOU GO

Bette Midler

Where: The Colosseum, Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays-Sundays from June 24 through July 20

Tickets: $95 to $250

Contact: (877) 723-8836 or www.ticketmaster.com

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