My Life: Played Out on Broadway

2017. A lump rises in my throat as my eyes lift to behold Dolly Levi, at the top of the grand stairway at Harmonia Gardens. The audience bursts with applause. Dolly descends in her signature red dress and feather spray. Tears stream down my cheeks. Why am I crying, clapping wildly, at such schmaltz? That’s not just Bette Midler, icon of my generation, shaping a musical theater diva to her own contours. My entire life floats down those steps: every elaborate fancy, every tawdry detail.

1969. Innocence radiates a cloak of security. How else can you explain two…