Bette Midler

Expect to see a crowd of young and old, straight and gay, denizens of society and drag queens at A Conversation With Bette Midler at Brilliant Lectures (thanks to Tenenbaum & Co. Classic Jeweler and Lynn Wyatt). Midler’s mass appeal makes perfect sense, since her art and career have been shaped by an equally wide variety of influences. “I was sort of straddling two generations,” Midler explains, citing Lucille Ball and Jean Harlow as influences, along with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. But her fondness for silent-film kings Laurel and Hardy was perhaps the greatest predictor of Midler’s future. “Stan Laurel really was a genius,” Midler said. “He had this really malleable face. He was hilarious, but he also was the mask of terrible tragedy — until he got angry, and then he would be this sputtering nut! It was really an amazing range.” Midler achieved her own sidesplitting-to-tear-jerking range. “I think, for the most part, it is a very sunny performance,” she describes her own resulting craft, “but I never left the part out that had poignancy.”

7 p.m. Wortham Theater Center/Brown Theater, 500 Texas. For information, call 832-487-7041 or visit brilliantlectures.org. $65 to $90.
Tue., April 29, 7 p.m., 2014

 
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