*** It Was A Magical Mystical Night ***
Donna kicked off her "official" 2005 tour last night at The Mystic Lake Casino (located 30 miles South of Minneapolis) in Prior Lake, MN. My friends and I traveled 400 miles from Omaha, Nebraska just to attend this show. Believe me, it was worth it! Donna performance clocked in at close to two hours with four costume changes. The evening was filled with several magical moments, a technical glitch, as well as a few musical hiccups.
Let's start at the beginning:
The Celebrity Palace Theater located inside the Casino seats roughly 2,300 people. The venue was at capacity. We stumbled upon several friends from the DS Forum while waiting for the doors to open. Donna's appearance at Mystic Lake coincided with PRIDE weekend in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Donna face was plastered across the Twin Cities, she was featured on the cover of the local gay rag (Lavender). I will not take the time to share the details of the interview because you can read it online. Note: she talks about her relationship with Giorgio.
There was a buzz in the lobby, but not the excitement we expected. Upon further investigation we discovered that it was coming from the merchandise booth. Apparently there was a typo on the new t-shirt (featuring the new publicity photo). The tour schedule printed on the back of the shirt states Prior Lake, MI. That's MICHIGAN folks.....instead of Minnesota. Many people found this quite amusing, but it did hurt sales. Note: Unfortunately, there is no tour book; only the T-shirt ($30), the Journey CD ($20), and her autobiography ($25).
It took quite a while for people to file into the theater, which delayed the start of the show for 15-20 minutes. The stage was amazing; three-tiers with a Grand Piano as the centerpiece - covered with glitter - and a mirrored dicso ball directly above it. I questioned if Donna borrowed the set from Liberace's estate! The descending staircases looked like piano keys; the string section on stage right, and the horns on stage left.
The overture began and the crowd cheered with delight. Donna arose from what looked like the center of the piano and began to belt "SWHFTM". She wore a beautiful, black strapless dress that accentuted her voluptuous figure. At the piano was none other than Bruce! Next was "Once Upon A Time" and a very strong rendition of "I Love You". Musically speaking - there were a few noticeable mistakes during these two songs. I'm not sure if it was the band, the background singers, or Donna herself. Just a few missed queues. All I can say is, it's early. By the time the show arrives in your city, it will be more polished!
At this point, Donna thanked everyone for coming and explained the rules for the first-timers, "to simply sing along and have a good time". The band began to play the intro to "MacArthur Park" and the audience cheered again. We were treated to the long version! Yipee. I have seen Donna twice before, but have never heard 'Could It Be Magic" in concert before - amazing! Donna poured her heart & soul into this one.
Magical Moment #1
Donna performed "Smile" and it was quite moving. She introduced the song by describing how she was called home when her father fell ill while touring in South America.
Next, Donna asked for three men to join her onstage and I cringed. "On The Radio" is not my favorites and I honestly think Donna should drop it from her show. However, this turned out to be quite memorable because the three "white guys" had no rhythm at all. Donna showed them how to Do-Whop and even said "just act like your black!" The crowed roared with laughter. This was followed by the "short" version of "Dim All The Lights".
The introduction to "Natural Woman" was very memorable. Donna shared her story about being lucky enough to be born with twins, and "not having to buy them" like some other women. She clutched her chest and made reference to "these twins" and "the twin cities". The audience was howling! Donna claimed her twins to be natural......and the song began! I have never seen Donna this sexual before, I am still in shock.
Magical Moment #2
Donna shared a very personal story about her relationship with Bruce, stating that it is indeed a tempestuous relationship at times. The audience was completely entranced at this point. She mentioned they are celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year (and 27 years together). Then, Bruce took center stage and sang "Le Imagine Cafe" while Donna did a quick costume change. Note: Bruce has lost weight. He wore a fitted shirt - white with a black design - and was in fine voice!
Donna posed seductively across the piano, equipped with toss pillows and sang her "My Man Medly". Donna wore a silver sequinned dress that was quite lovely. There is a new introduction to "Enough Is Enough" with Mary chatting on the phone to her friend Yvonne describing her experiences with Oscar. It works! Donna appears in another new outfit (black pants and a white jacket) and they begin to belt! Note: Mary Ellen looks fabulous!! Love the hair hon! Next, "Night in White Satin" followed by a melody of "Try Me" and "I Feel Love".
It was during the above numbers that I noticed the problem with the sound system. It sounded as if Donna was singing into a tunnel. The musicians and background singers overpowered her. There was clearly an issue because Donna motioned for one of the crew after performing "Love To Love You Baby". btw - the arrangement of this song is perfect, it's reminiscent of the original single - well done!
The concert seemed to lose momentum at this point. The theater was stuffy, the air was not circulating and Donna appeared to be a bit overheated. She was actually drinking water between verses of songs. Just as I started to get discouraged, things turned around. The band began to play "Cold Love" (and the sound problem was apparently fixed) and Donna demostrated renewed enthuiasm as she tore into the song! The crowd finally rose to it's feet during "Bad Girls" and "Hot Stuff".
Magical Moment #3
A violinist (gent) from the string section took center stage and began to play without accompaniment - it was quite beautiful. I was hoping this was anoverture into "I Will Go With You" - but alas, it was a new intro for "Last Dance". Donna emerged wearing another beautiful dress - my personal favorite of the evening. All I can say is "Grrrrr".
For many years I have been reading about the "casino crowds" on Cathy's website and the Delphi ES forum. I can now offer a personal testimonial - Yuck!!! Nevertheless, it was a good show and it will only be better once the kinks are worked out.
- Mark M, Omaha, Nebraska