BETTE MIDLER: THE SHOWGIRL MUST GO ON [2010 / 2011] [Blu-ray] [USA Release]
Blazingly Funny! Ms. Bette Midler Hits All The Notes With Breath To Spare!

The Divine Miss M is back! Ms. Bette Midler returns in this Las Vegas extravaganza taped before a packed house at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the 67-minute cavalcade features an exhilarating tour de force of some of Ms. Midler's colourful and classic stage characters. Joining her is an entourage of talented performers, including the staggering Harlettes, 16 dazzling dancers she calls The Caesar Salad Girls and a 13-piece band. Thrilling audiences with her captivating performances, Ms. Bette Midler's superstar power continues to shine as she belts out show stopping renditions of her biggest hits including “The Rose,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “From a Distance,” “Hello in There” and “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

FILM FACT: ‘THE SHOWGIRL MUST GO ON’ premiered on the 20th February, 2008 and closed on the 31st January, 2010. Ms. Bette Midler signed for 300 shows from 2008 to 2010 at a pace of 100 performances a year. Shows were presented five nights a week with the house dark on Mondays and Thursdays. According to Billboard, the residency grossed $72 million. On the 31st December, 2010, ‘THE SHOWGIRL MUST GO ON’ was broadcast on HBO channels at 9:00pm. The 67 minute special contained some of the performances from the 2 hour long show.

Artist: Bette Midler

Harlettes: Carol Hatchett, Jordan Ballard, Kamilah Marshall, Kandis Mak and Kyra DaCosta

Band: Background Vocals: Jordan Ballard, Kyra Da Costa, Kamilah Martin, Shayna Steele. Musical Director and Piano: Bette Sussman. Keyboards: Darrell Smith. Guitars: Mike Miller and Wayne Johnson. Drums: Sonny Emory. Bass: Tom Barney. Percussion: Taku Hirano. Trumpets: Danny Falcone and Gil Kaupp. Saxophones: Robert Mader, Gerald Merra and Phil Wigfall. Trombone: Nathan Tanouye

Dancers: Latrina Bolger, Sheila Joy Burford, Janeelle Cambridge, Candice Dickerson, Michelle DiTerlizzi, Crystal Edwards, Lisa Eaton, Heather Graham, Carol Hatchett, Samantha Harper, Randi Kemper, Ashlee Langas, Kandis Mak, Dani Wylie Olorenshaw, Ayesha Orange, Katy Tate, Amberley Waddell and Nichole Weber

Director: Bette Midler

Screenplay: Bruce Vilanch and Eric Kornfeld

Producers: Bette Midler, Paul Remo and Seanne Farmer

Choreography: Tony Basil

Costume Design: Constance Hoffman

Image Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
English: 2.0 Uncompressed LPCM Stereo Audio

Subtitles: None

Running Time: 67 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1


Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Pop diva Ms. Bette Midler (aka The Divine Miss M) has enjoyed a long successful career in a wide array of mediums most notably on stage. She has a wonderful stage presence and is liked by many. Her three-year Las Vegas show ‘THE SHOWGIRL MUST GO ON’ which  began in February of 2008 and ended in January of 2010 featured many songs that the performer made popular including “From a Distance” and “Wind Beneath My Wings”. Now, ‘THE SHOWGIRL MUST GO ON’ is out on Blu-ray so fans of Midler’s can rejoice and enjoy her show in crystal-clear high definition. Recorded at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and the 67 minute ‘THE SHOWGIRL MUST GO ON’ is a glitzy and colourful spectacle of Ms. Bette Midler-like proportions. From neon pink and gold flashing lights to Rockette-type dancers, this show pretty much has it all. Ms. Bette Midler sings, dances and even provides some corny stand-up comedy which the audience seems to eat up almost as much as they did their all-you-can-eat dinner buffets.

The Divine Miss M, who perfected her act belting out tunes and cracking X-rated jokes to the patrons of the famous gay bathhouses in New York with Barry Manilow on the piano accompanying her. But the lady could sing, and when someone finally wised up and put her on vinyl in, her multi-tracked rendition of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” with that incomparable voice covering for all three Andrews Sisters, topped the charts. Thirty-six years later, the stage may be bigger and they don't come much bigger than the The Colosseum at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. The sequins are more plentiful, the backing orchestra is certainly more polished, the accompanying dancers that are the staggering Harletts and an even larger retinue of Caesar Salad Girls are far more co-ordinated, but the essential Ms. Bette Midler is unchanged. “Salty songs and dirty jokes put my daughter through private school!” she tells the crowd. “I've been telling these jokes for forty years . . . and you've been laughing at 'em for forty years” for which the People's Diva gives her sincere thanks.

Ms. Bette Midler's show is a canny assembly of popular standards with some minor additions. The selections are interspersed with classic Bette patter and spiced with enough Vegas production pizzazz to cover the costume changes and give the 60-something firecracker a chance to recharge and reload. True to form, Ms. Bette Midler makes her advancing years and also those of her fans and the butt of her own jokes. As is often the case with “tribute” or retrospective shows, I suspect one's enjoyment of ‘THE SHOWGIRL MUST GO ON’ may depend, in part, on familiarity with the originals  that are being recreated, because memory overlays the current performance with recollections of the initial one and the emotions it evoked.

Ms. Bette Midler still delivers the voice, and Ms. Bette Midler's rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings,” which she saves until the last, demonstrates that Ms. Midler can still bring the heart-felt schmaltz that has kept her fan base broad and loyal all these years. That same emotional appeal, direct, yearning, unadorned, and a lot harder to pull off than it sounds and can be heard in her renditions of “The Rose” and “From a Distance.” It's a Ms. Bette Midler trademark as much as the dirty mouth and the scandalous jokes and not so much these days, and it's the real secret to her longevity and loyalty of her massive fans of this Ms. Bette Midler the Diva and that is why this Blu-ray shows off her true professional performance, that keeps you entertained throughout the show. The only downside to this Blu-ray disc is surely the show was much longer than 67 minutes, as I am sure it must be at least 2 hours long, because if I went to see the show live at only 67 minutes, I would be more than miffed and short changed at a short show, I would of demanded my money back.

‘BETTE MIDLER: THE SHOWGIRL MUST GO ON’ has one of the most peculiar openings I've ever seen of a concert disc. It opens with some terribly shoddy CGI that looks like the disc menu for a low-rent knock-off. A bedraggled donkey wanders in front of a sign bearing Ms. Bette Midler's image, a vulture swoops into the frame and tumbleweeds blow by. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, a tornado sweeps through, picks up all of these poor creatures and whisks them to The Colosseum at Caesar's Palace, where Ms. Bette Midler is ready to kick off her latest show. Well us Brits in the UK knew what was happening at the start of this Blu-ray disc, as it is a massive send up of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and that Ms. Bette Midler has finally arrived in Las Vegas with a bang, and it is that simple and you Americans out there who do not seem to be very knowledge of comedy send ups and again it is that simple and why do Americans get so confused by such hilarious send ups and is one of the most inventive beginning of a Blu-ray disc and the start of a Las Vegas Show.

Ms. Bette Midler’s outsize persona, the Divine thing, serves her well here. Staging a show of this kind on a long strip of stage must be like putting a Broadway show on a subway platform. The strain sometimes shows; even 20 leggy women aren’t quite enough to eat up the space, and the choreography by Toni Basil, delightful in the Soph-and-the-showgirls segment, flounders at other points. The set designs, by the opera veteran Michael Levine, are dominated by a series of shimmering curtains of gold coins that pay elegant tribute to the tradition of Las Vegas glitz. But there’s no escaping the flattening influence of the giant video screen that looms over the stage and makes the space feel a bit like a supersize IMAX theatre.

Ms. Bette Midler is capable of instantly warming up a room this daunting and filling a stage this forbidding is a testament to her consummate skills as an entertainer. The temperature dips now and then, but she keeps the antiseptic at bay with regular infusions of the down-and-dirty earthiness that is so central to her appeal. Flinging herself on her back at one point, in mock exhaustion, she crankily observes that her predecessor “must have been a robot” and anyone arriving at the point in ‘THE SHOWGIRL MUST GO ON’ must have been very confused with the comment from Ms. Bette Midler about the mechanical contraption. Ms. Bette Midler still tears into the soulful ballad “When a Man Loves a Woman,” to cite just one example, with a fierceness that excavates every ounce of pain from it. Like all great showgirls, she may wear sequins like a second skin, but the woman underneath is all flesh and blood, humour and heart. If you are a diehard Ms. Bette Midler fan, then this is the perfect item to pick up. I have to admit it does contain some fantastic memorable songs and Ms. Bette Midler does have a certain appeal many aspect of all generations and you will be mesmerised by an awesome experience, and you will find ‘THE SHOWGIRL MUST GO ON’ Blu-ray is the most perfect purchase and will give you many endless hours of enjoyment and each time you view this Blu-ray disc, you will see something totally different, that you may not have observed the first time round of this amazing and exciting awesome Las Vegas show. The only negative aspect of this Blu-ray is that the programme is only 67 minutes long, whereas it is advertised that its running time is 120 minutes, so why couldn’t they have recorded the full extravaganza show, very strange?


THE SHOWGIRL MUST GO ON (Written by Eddie Nichols, Bette Midler, Eric Kornfeld and Bette Sussman) [Performed by Ms. Bette Midler]

FRIENDS (Bette Midler song) (Written by Buzzy Linhart and Mark "Moogy" Klingman) [Performed by Ms. Bette Midler]

THE ROSE (Written by Amanda McBroom) [Performed by Ms. Bette Midler]

DO YOU WANT TO DANCE? (Written by American singer Bobby Freeman) [Performed by Ms. Bette Midler]

FROM A DISTANCE (Written by American singer-songwriter Julie Gold) [Performed by Ms. Bette Midler]

JA-DA (Written by Bob Carleton 1918) [Performed by Ms. Bette Midler]

HELLO IN THERE (Written by John Prine) [Performed by Ms. Bette Midler]

PRETTY LEGS (And Great Big Knockers) (Written by Theodore Irwin and Eugene Pistilli) [Performed by Ms. Bette Midler]

HOT IN HERE (Written by American rapper Nelly) [Performed by Ms. Bette Midler]

THE GLORY OF LOVE (Written by Billy Hill) [Performed by Ms. Bette Midler]

BOOGIE WOOGIE BUGLE BOY (Written by Don Raye and Hugh Durham Prince aka Hughie Prince) [Performed by Ms. Bette Midler]

WIND BENEATH MY WINGS (Written by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley) [Performed by Ms. Bette Midler]

Blu-ray Image Quality – Image Entertainment's 1080p image presentation, but on the back cover and other reviews, they state it is 1080i, well this only happens at the start of the Blu-ray, but when the actual Las Vegas show starts, it is ablaze of wonderful rich colours and is stunning. By the way, this Blu-ray disc has been filmedin high-definition video, with the exception of the opening mini-film projected on a giant screen behind the stage at the start of the show, which you think is of poor quality and you feel is this the best they can come up with, but when the show starts, it really makes up for the slightly disappointing image definition. The image itself throughout the show is very clean, sharp and very detailed with almost no colour noise, except in an occasional long shot, where the light shines off the numerous sequins on the outfits. Blacks surrounding the performers are solid and deep in close and medium shots, but exhibit minor colour crushing in longer shots; this is probably unavoidable, given the sensitivity of HD cameras and the multiple reflections in an auditorium the size of the Colosseum, so that the dark is never completely dark. This being a video-sourced Blu-ray, there were none of the issues sometimes encountered in film transfers, such as ringing or high-frequency filtering, nor did I observe any compression errors. By the way has the Blu-ray disc listed as Region A/1, well it is not, and it is All Regions, as stated on the back cover

Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track tends to favours the orchestra, which it delivers with punch and presence. It also immerses you in the crowd's applause and laughter, which wraps around the sides. Comedic patter and Ms. Bette Midler's solos are beautifully rendered, but the 5.1 mix struck me as being slightly reticent with the vocals on some songs, especially when it came to balancing Ms. Bette Midler, the orchestra and the chorus. Just for comparison, I replayed a few numbers with the 2.0 LPCM audio track, which seemed to have a much better balance. In any case, both soundtracks almost certainly have superior tonality value to, and fewer rough edges than, the live performance, thanks to the efforts of sound engineers.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: Sadly, IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT deemed it not worthy to supply some special features or behind-the-scene filming or even interviews with Ms. Bette Midler and the rest of the cast and crew.

Finally, during one of the breaks between songs, Ms. Bette Midler describes how she invented her infamous alter ego, Soph, through whose shameless lips the performer could tell the trashiest jokes she could think of. Bette Midler was 30 at the time; so she imagined someone much, much older, say, 60! At which point, the People's Diva blanches and turns her head away in shame. Ms. Bette Midler may have attained Soph's age, but she's far exceeded her creation. Anyone who's still willing, after all these years, to get out on that massive stage, pour her heart into those songs night after night with such conviction, and even display the comparison with her younger self for all the world to see is a class act of rare conviction, even if she does claim to cruise nursing homes looking for dates. Despite my miffed comment on how long the show is, I am still so pleased to add this to my ever increasing Bette Midler Blu-ray Collection, but I am very sad they will not release the ‘Bette Midler: Diva Las Vegas’ [PAL DVD], as this is just as awesome and the running time of 125 minutes is what you call a concert and is so totally hilarious and the jokes just as bawdy and will have to in stitches of laughter the whole 125 minutes. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado 
Le Cinema Paradiso 
United Kingdom

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