I think that it's a safe bet that anyone who might be picking up Bette Midler's "The Showgirl Must Go On" is most likely already a fan of the Divine Miss M. So what can I tell you? Showgirl is a production that ran for approximately two years at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas between 2008 and early 2010. Taped for HBO, this is the fifth special that Midler has provided for the network in her illustrious career (the first was in 1977!). Unfortunately, the HBO airing and the subsequent DVD release does not showcase the entire Vegas production. Midler's average show clocked in at about 90 minutes and the DVD release (as well as the televised HBO production) comes in at 67 minutes. Most of Midler's biggest and most expected numbers are intact with a song list that includes the following noteworthy numbers:
Big Noise from Winnetka, The Showgirl Must Go On, Friends, The Rose, Do You Wanna Dance, From a Distance, Boolya JaDa, Hello in There, Pretty Legs/Hot in Here, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Wind Beneath My Wings
If you saw the show live, perhaps the most noticeable omission is the uproarious disco parody. However, wishing doesn't make things different and won't add the content back into the concert. As the creative force and producer behind the show, I'm sure Midler had a hand in the final decision making process (I suspect it came down to financial matters as it usually does, especially concerning various non-Midler covers). But if you love Midler, you'll have to decide if the 70 minute version is enough to keep you entertained. And, for most, I'm guessing the answer will be "yes."
Midler provides everything you might expect in this presentation. More mature, and more prone to breathlessness, she can still light up a stage. Here she is ably backed by a troupe of dancers called the Caesar Salad Girls (the costuming is inspired), a 13 piece band, and a back up singing group named The Harlettes. It's bawdy, brassy and quite colorful (as are all her shows) and ripe with double entendres without being overtly inappropriate to more sensitive viewers. But I will say that with Midler--what you expect is what is delivered. If you are familiar with her stage performances, nothing here is particularly revelatory. It's just a grand dame doing what she does best. An easy recommendation if you're a fan. KGHarris, 7/11.