by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
Fabulous New York singer/entertainer Dorothy Bishop brought her show to Jacksonville and the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre for what was billed as a two-night performance August 9, 10 but due to the demand for tickets, was held over for a third night on August 11.
It was no surprise it was a sold out show, as Ms. Bishop, a Jacksonville native, has brought her act to town on several previous occasions and she has a lot of fans in this area. Last year’s appearance was equally successful.
Dorothy has family here and likes to come to this city when she can, but is mainly based in New York. She regularly appears at Club Iguana on 54th Street, and the “Divas” show originated there. Over the years she has appeared at a number of New York venues, and has also traveled all over the world on cruise ships as a headline performer.
Dorothy started the show dressed as Joan Rivers and sounding very much like her. She walked through the audience greeting patrons and was joined by local actor Blake Osner in the guise of Elvis Presley. Osner really looked the part and was adored by the female fans in the audience. He explained Elvis was on his come back to earth life tour.
Ms. Bishop opened the show by having four divas sing “The Lonely Goatherd” from “The Sound of Music”. Our favorite yodelers showed up here: Patti Labelle, Celine Dion, and Ethel Merman.
Ms. Bishop moved on to Mae West by selecting one of the many wigs arrayed on stage. We felt like we had actually met Ms. West, especially when we heard her well known comments about men. She rapidly moved on to Britney Spears, and then to Kristin Chenoweth from “Wicked”, who taught audience members to sing using the nasal cavity.
Another rapid wig and accessory change and we had Shirley Bassey singing “Goldfinger” and the Tom Jones hit “I Who Have Nothing.” Then on to a stop at the Paris Opera, with Sarah Brightman as Christine in a very large and very curly wig and Mr. Osner appearing in the famous mask as the Phantom. Dorothy was an opera student at Yale; her operatic voice was excellent.
At this point, one of the Dual Critics favorite singers made her appearance: Barbra Streisand. This was one of Dorothy’s best performances. She not only has every Streisand gesture down, but looks and sounds like the imperious lady. Neil Diamond (Mr. Osner of course) came out and did a duet with Barbara. Winding up the first half of the show was Neil Diamond continuing solo with the ever popular “Sweet Caroline”. The entire audience really got into it, waving and singing along.
After the intermission, Mr. Osner did a comedy routine dressed as Aunt Crabby with her craft corner. This was a little bit naughty but a whole lot of fun.
The English singer Adele was next and Ms. Bishop’s English accent was just like that of a native. We were not familiar with this performer since our musical tastes are focused on musical theatre, but did check it out on You Tube, and sure enough, Dorothy’s interpretation was as real as the Adele we saw.
Dorothy’s creative talents brought us a surprise with the appearance of none other than cooking guru Paula Deen (“Hi, Y’all!”). Although Deen is not a singer, in Bishop’s hands she became one as her son Bobby (Mr. Osner), created a fruit salad on stage. (It actually looked pretty good). A very funny bit and very timely as well.
Again we were not familiar with Bishop’s Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac but found her recreation remarkably accurate based on what we saw on You Tube.
After a blonde wig and a couple of songs from Madonna, it was on to another of our favorites as Bishop created Cher. She does a marvelous version of Cher and had the entire audience singing “I Got You Babe”, which was Cher’s biggest hit. Sonny joined Cher for this final number.
This show was created by Dorothy Bishop who apparently wrote most of the new lyrics frequently used in fun. Costuming included many interesting gowns, often draped with big boas, along with big-hair wigs. This lady has an incredibly versatile voice and is an exciting entertainer. Speaking for the men in the audience, we noticed that Ms. Bishop has much pulchritude!!!! Blake Osner is a local fixture on the musical theatre scene in the North Florida area and is such a talented and charismatic performer that he is much in demand.
The evening ended with standing applause by the entire audience. We very much enjoyed the show, with its humor and New York vibe, and are hoping for a future reappearance.
THE DOZEN DIVAS SHOW
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM