Ok, time to wrap up the Vegas trip posts (though who knows it might make a guest appearance in future post... never say never). We always try to see a show while we are in Vegas and Caesars Palace is pretty much ground zero of late. Right now, the rotation is pretty much the gay trinity: Elton John (though his last engagement is in a few weeks), Cher, and Bette Midler. We had already seen Elton in Vegas, so it was down to the gay Sophie's Choice decision of choosing between Cher and Bette - both who were in the house around the time we were planning on heading to Sin City. Since Cher has an extra year on her contract, we decided to on Bette (though either would have been a "no lose" scenario).
This was our 3rd time seeing the Divine Miss M. We saw her in the last week of 1999 and she was prepping her big Vegas arena millennium show and a few years back for the "Kiss My Brass" tour. We figured that was probably last time since she was (or was nearing) age 60 and given the rigors of touring, but Vegas provides a wonderful opportunity for a legend to stay put and have folks come to her (or him).
That said, this show (despite a much shallower stage the more "mature" post-Celine headliners are using) is certainly not anything less rigorous than what Bette did on the road. She is constantly scurrying back and forth on the stage... and comically falls down once and crying out "Celine, come back all is forgiven. Elton! Cher! Help!".... ending with perhaps my favorite line of the night "Donny and Marie cross the f&cking street!" (the Osmonds siblings headline a show at the Flamingo, which is right across the street from Caesars).
As the show title, "The Showgirl Must Go On," suggests she really turns the show into an old-school Vegas spectacular with a gaggle of showgirls she dubs the Caesar Salad Girls. I always forget how much humor Bette brings to her shows. I also think this may be the biggest surprised for some audience member who just think of her as that nice woman who sings ballads like "From A Distance," "The Rose," and "Wind Beneath My Wings." Bette joked that 30 years ago her audience was on drugs, now they're on medication... and for the Wednesday night performance that we attended, I don't think that was that much of a joke. For 40-somethings, we certainly felt like whipper-snappers, particularly with the folks on either side of us (maybe they're the only ones that could afford non-comped/high roller Orchestra ticket prices!). But Bette certainly isn't shy about dropping f-bombs or railing against right wingers like Palin and Limbaugh. And you can tell she keeps the act current/fresh as we had material on Madoff and the Octo-Mom.
Bette even goofed up twice. I am still not sure if it was "part of the act" but her reactions both times seemed pretty genuine. Once was during her Soph routine, where she muffed the start mixing up whether it was from her boyfriend Ernie or her girlfriend Clementine... and another time, when she said she messed up her "best/big note" on a song and went back and did it again. Very funny and self-effacing both times!
So anyhow, I would highly recommend the show. Bette is such a crowd pleaser!
Ok, now for the extra special, extra fun part! We met Kamilah, one of Bette's Staggering Harlettes!
It's really an instance of never knowing where life will take you or who knows who. Funny enough, we had already seen Kamilah as she was Harlette-ing for Bette during her "Kiss My Brass" tour a few years back. So how did this all come about? Well, my friend Jen (who I "met" via this very blog) is friends with Kamilah. I can't exactly remember how I found that out, but I am sure, at some point, Jen knew I would go bonkers having this kinda sorta "six degrees of separation" going with Bette Midler. And truthfully that was good/fun enough for me!
Anyhow, fast-forward a bit... Kamilah said she would come out and say hello to us after the show! We pretty quickly spotted each other in the throngs of folks in the casino as Kamilah joked it shouldn't be that difficult to spot a black woman looking for a pair of gay guys (though I think that latter is a tad more challenging at a Bette concert).
Kamilah (to Bette's left in that above picture - gorgeous, huh?!!) could not have been nicer, it was like meeting up with a friend and not this admittedly pretty odd online friend of a friend thing... honestly I am not sure I would have done the same if I were in her shoes. We had a nice chat about the show and totally unprompted (!!) she had very nice things to say about her boss, which I was glad to hear... always hate to have one's fantasies of a celeb must be like in-person shattered to pieces.
Knowing we were going to meet up, I did pay special attention to the Harlettes during the show and I have to say I didn't realize how hard they worked... not only back-up singers, but dancing (and in this show, heading dance routines w/ the showgirls while Bette rested/costume-changed) and providing a foil for Bette. And I'm guessing Kamilah & Co. made hopping around in a mermaid tail a lot easier than it looked. Kamilah mentioned at some points in the show they are off-stage changing costumes while providing back-up vocals!
It was a big thrill for us to meet Kamilah (check out her FB fanpage here), no surprise that folks in the performing arts have my utmost respect (envy! awe! and I hadn't even mentioned Kamilah has been in "Hairspray," "Rent," and "The Lion King"!?!) and we look forward to her upcoming "funkabilly" album... and another big shout-out/thanks for Jen for setting it all up!
(Note: The fuzzy-ish show poster first picture is mine, the 2nd one - with Bette & Kamilah - is "borrowed" from the 'net... no cameras allowed inside the Colosseum)