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Lifestyle Opinion / Profile / Travel / Food / Stars
You have to be a pretty brave performer
to tackle the songs and cabaret shtick of
the Divine Miss M, a er all Bette Midler
has delivered some of the world's biggest selling
hit songs in her time, is renowned as a comedian
and is currently raking it in with an all-singing ,
all-dancing spectacular that revisits her bath-
house days, complete with mermaids and
dancing boys... But performer Catherine Al-
corn isn't one to shy away from a challenge...
Currently on the road with that media circus
known as the Oprah show, Alcorn took time
out to answer our questions about her upcom-
ing cabaret at Slide, The Divine Miss M.
Working alongside her friend, writer Peter
Cox, Alcorn has fashioned a piece that deliv-
ers a fitting tribute to the raunchy Bette that
was so beloved by the gays of NYC way back
in the seventies and early eighties.
It may seem an odd choice of piece for a
modern day triple threat (a singer/dancer/
actor) but Alcorn is quick to sing the praises
of Miss Bette, and explains why performing
a show based on her cabaret act is so appro-
priate: "I've always been a fan," says Alcorn.
"She's hilarious, sharp and such an intelligent
woman. Her versatility as a performer is both
inspirational and admirable.
"I also have that versatility as a vocalist
and wanted an act that would showcase that.
She (Midler) does it all, especially in her live
concerts. One minute you're cracking up, the
next you're in tears. Plus, this is a great chance
to educate my generation on the other side
of Bette Midler, not just the Beaches' actress
we grew up with. They've no idea she was the
queen of risqué in the 70s. Her early tours
were something else!"
So where does one start when creating a
show about a living legend? According to
Alcorn it's helpful to have a friend who is a
playwright on board....Enter stage left, Peter
Cox. "I had always been a huge fan (of Midler)
and when I pitched him (Cox) the idea, he
ran with it. I had a script three weeks later.
When Coxy is inspired by something , he's on
fire," says Alcorn. "Coxy took his wife to Mel-
bourne in the 70s when Bette toured."
Despite the short turnaround in the work,
Alcorn says the process of creating the show
was a careful one.
"We talked about what sort of show we
wanted it to be and decided that we wanted it
to span her entire career, not just perform the
Beaches soundtrack. She made so many songs
famous such as 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy',
'Hello In There' and 'Friends'. We wanted to
keep it intimate and cabaret too, so we began
by choosing the song list which was a delicate
process because her repertoire has been so
wonderfully broad. Once selected, Coxy set
to work on the script and the show was up."
Alcorn has also been assisted in her task by
the man who helped bring Bette's bathhouse
shows to life, former opera singer Steve Os-
"Training with Steve Ostrow has been a
truly incredible experience. He's quite a man.
What a full life he's had, and it's still going.
My voice has never been better. Fancy discov-
ering the man who owned the Continental
Baths and who discovered the very woman
herself, lives just around the corner from
you in Sydney. I mean really. How cool is our
So what does Alcorn think Bette would
think of her show, should she happen to ever
"She's great and I'm not going to sue her!"
The Divine Miss M plays at Slide for one night
only January 27. Dinner and show $65, Show
only $25. The show will have a return season
during Mardi Gras.
For more info visit: thedivinemissbette.com
A divine muse
Catherine Alcorn channels Bette Midler for a new cabaret at Slide.
By Cec Busby
of risqué in
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