Hell in a Handbag’s BETTE, LIVE AT THE CONTINENTAL BATHS Review- Reveling in The Divine Miss M

(left to right) TJ Crawford, Caitlin Jackson and Will Wilhelm in Hell in a Handbag’s BETTE, LIVE AT THE CONTINENTAL BATHS, a musical tribute to the Divine Miss M’s legendary NYC concert, directed and choreographed by Christopher Pazdernik with music direction by Jeremy Ramey

 

Before the bath houses became equated with the spawning ground of the AIDS plague, they were for many oases of joy.  Yes, it was an orgy-on-the-ready scene, but far more importantly it was also a place where gay men could forget about homophobia and trying to fit into a straight society.  Go to the bath house and just be GAY!

 

(left to right) TJ Crawford, Caitlin Jackson and Will Wilhelm in Hell in a Handbag’s BETTE, LIVE AT THE CONTINENTAL BATHS, a musical tribute to the Divine Miss M’s legendary NYC concert, directed and choreographed by Christopher Pazdernik with music direction by Jeremy Ramey

 

If there is one woman who is associated with the bath house scene it is Bette Midler.  Campy, bawdy and above all singing loud and with spirit, Bette Midler gathered her first fan base in the Continental Baths of New York City.    She loved the guys and they loved her.

 

(left to right) Caitlin Jackson, TJ Crawford, Will Wilhelm and Jeremy Ramey in Hell in a Handbag’s BETTE, LIVE AT THE CONTINENTAL BATHS, a musical tribute to the Divine Miss M’s legendary NYC concert, directed and choreographed by Christopher Pazdernik with music direction by Jeremy Ramey

 

Hell in a Handbag’s tribute to Bathhouse Bette lets you live – or for some re-live- that moment in time.   It’s a chance to join the Bette Midler fan club and revel in her star power and great voice.

 

left to right) TJ Crawford, Caitlin Jackson and Will Wilhelm in Hell in a Handbag’s BETTE, LIVE AT THE CONTINENTAL BATHS, a musical tribute to the Divine Miss M’s legendary NYC concert, directed and choreographed by Christopher Pazdernik with music direction by Jeremy Ramey

 

How can you not love this lively redhead when she sings “You’ve Got to Have Friends” or  “Leader of the Pack” or “Do You Want to Dance?” and more signature sounds than you might have thought a singer could have.

 

pictured) Caitlin Jackson in Hell in a Handbag’s BETTE, LIVE AT THE CONTINENTAL BATHS, a musical tribute to the Divine Miss M’s legendary NYC concert, directed and choreographed by Christopher Pazdernik with music direction by Jeremy Ramey

 

These are big diva slippers to fit into and actress/chanteuse Caitlin Jackson is more than up to the task, and happily with the requisite décolletage to remind that Bette wasn’t about to be out-queened by anybody!  Her backdrop singers are two towel clad guys, TJ Crawford and Wil Wilhelm, who have the joyful gestures and expressions that define the scene.  Jeremy Ramey hits all the right notes as Bette’s Barry Manilow accompanist and as music director keeps the songs flowing.

 

(left to right) TJ Crawford, Caitlin Jackson and Will Wilhelm in Hell in a Handbag’s BETTE, LIVE AT THE CONTINENTAL BATHS, a musical tribute to the Divine Miss M’s legendary NYC concert, directed and choreographed by Christopher Pazdernik with music direction by Jeremy Ramey

 

This is entertainment through and through that will please most.  It’s also a must-see for any serious fan of the Divine Miss M, a group whom one can well imagine that Director Christopher Pazdernik counts himself in.

 

(pictured) Caitlin Jackson in Hell in a Handbag’s BETTE, LIVE AT THE CONTINENTAL BATHS, a musical tribute to the Divine Miss M’s legendary NYC concert, directed and choreographed by Christopher Pazdernik with music direction by Jeremy Ramey

 

Now through August 21 at Mary’s Attic, 5400 North Clark, Chicago.

 

For tickets or information visit the Hell in a Handbag Productions website.

 

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Photos:  Rick Aguilar Studios

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