An Evening with Bette Midler (featuring Orla Mullan)

Who doesn’t love the music of Bette Midler? There’s always that ‘one’ song that gets you contemplating something or someone! I missed this show last time around, but I wasn’t going to make the mistake again this time.
Where does Bette begin and Orla end I did wonder as I left the Playhouse in Derry last night. I’ve known Orla for a couple of years now and her singing always blows me away. Last night I think storm Ophelia finally hit and transported me to another lifetime. Mullan excelled from start to finish. From the onset at 8pm, right through to the finish, Orla Mullan really was Bette Midler in every way. My sides were sore from laughing, my eyes cried with emotion, but at all times, it really was Bette last night. Such is the talent of Mullan. Hell, she’s good. She’s brilliant at every turn. In her bare feet, with her sexy legs, buxom boobs and more, she sang, talked and acted us through the life and career of a musical legend.
I loved learning about Bette’s life. I didn’t know she was a Jewish child from Hawaii and worked in her youth at a pineapple factory. “The best chunker” she says herself! So as well as being a musical spectacle it was also an education in the life and times of Bette Midler. It told the inspirational story of how this diva worked her way from the very bottom to the very top.  This show really is a real insight into Bette’s life through story and song.
Mullan’s pianist and musical director also joined in the fun last night on stage. It really was a team effort. His music never faltered. But at all times, Mullan aka Midler was the star and diva on the stage. Her voice, her mannerisms, and her style were Bette throughout. Her facial expressions were so Bette and it really was difficult at times to recall that this wasn’t actually Midler herself on the Derry stage. Her telling about Midler’s involvement with the gay community and her sorrow at losing many friends to Aids in the 80’s was harrowing. As Mullan burst into From a Distance, there wasn’t a sound to be heard except her voice. Exquisite. Orla Mullan excels as a performer to heights beyond which most can only dream of reaching, with this show. This lady is talented in unimaginable ways.
As Orla/aka Bette, sang The Rose and Wind Beneath my Wings, I really was transported back 25 years – to the day I got married. I always said I would have these two songs sung on my wedding day. And as I walked down the aisle 25 years ago with my husband, it was to Bette’s Wind Beneath my Wings. The Rose played earlier in the ceremony. This music always has, and always will, hold a special place in my heart. Orla did it so beautifully last night. And yes I shed a tear at the memory and at the beauty of the performance by Orla.
So what did I and my friends take away from last night? “Youth is temporary, Diva is forever” – three divas were born and diva’s we plan to remain!!
There’s still a few more shows to be had this coming week. I certainly highly recommend you try and catch one of them. You really won’t regret it.

Catch Orla Mullan as Bette Midler in Ballybofey tonight, Sunday 19th, Strabane 24th and Down Arts Centre on Saturday 25th November.

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