by John Lombard
The Q, 18 December (on until 21 December)
Catherine Alcorn’s Bette Midler tribute makes a splashy return to Queanbeyan, with Midler’s hits and filthy jokes mixed with plucky Christmas songs to heat up the holidays.
With a clarion voice and snappy banter, Alcorn minces effortlessly in Midler’s heels, her playful vivacity almost better than the original.
Whether enthroned on a clamshell palanquin, tugging Christmas crackers with the audience, or crooning a torch song, Alcorn’s affectionate parody of the legendary diva was endlessly entertaining.
With years of touring a Midler act, Alcorn has a ferocious versatility. The feisty opening night audience got everything it cried for, whether planned classics like The Rose or an impromptu rendition of an underrated song like Long John Blues.
For those who had seen Alcorn’s previous Midler tribute, many of the gags had a comforting familiarity. But rather than feeling predictable, this enhanced the nostalgia of the show, and demonstrated Alcorn’s confidence and playfulness.
Capable back-up singers gave Alcorn not only strong accompaniment but lively comic foils.
For a true Midler fan, there was a sense this could be seen multiple times, and always offer something new. Honed by USA touring and returning to familiar territory, The Divine Miss Bette is a gift worth unwrapping.