Who's that 'Girly'? Madonna's tour ambition is redefinition


Finding herself dangerously close to every bump being just another grind, it's time for Madonna to reinvent herself.

The crop-carrying dominatrix in the "Erotica" video?

Yawnsville. Sado-masochism is a been-there-done-that kind of thing. Besides, a gold tooth is a questionable look for anyone.

The wan waif in the "Rain" video? Just try getting away with that act after you've been photographed with a dog giving you an impromptu gynecological exam.

Nope. The next Madonna -- whoever that is -- needs to be a real shocker.

We'll know soon. Her world tour -- "The Girly Show" -- opens Saturday in London, and big things are expected of the blond ambitious one.

For one thing, will her hair still be blond?

Or, for that matter, will she still have hair?

There's a rumor flying through the beauty world that Ms. Ciccione has shorn her locks.

Costume sketches for the tour, by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, include elaborate headresses and dandy hats.

The fact that no one in Madonna's camp or from Dolce & Gabbana will deny that she has shaved her head is certainly reason to perk up one's ears.

Usually everyone is knocking you down to tell you what she's done, who she did it with and how many times she did it before vowing never to do it again.

But with the shaved-head thing, it's just one long silence on the other end of the telephone.

"I cannot comment on that," says Long Nguyen, a spokesman for Dolce & Gabbana. "That has to be a surprise in London. I can't tell you. It will be a new look, though."

Mr. Nguyen has been coordinating fittings and changes between the designer and the mega-star. Since May, they have worked in "a very close collaboration," Mr. Nguyen says from his New York office. He had just returned from Madonna's rehearsals at Sony Studios in Los Angeles.

"She doesn't just give out orders or directions. She would have a direction she wanted to go in. She would have references in old movies, old pictures. And there were changes every day. You know, you get something under the lights and it's the wrong color. We even had one last change today for the London opening."

Madonna's tour is closer to a Broadway musical than a concert, says Liz Rosenberg, vice-president of Warner Bros.' music division.

Rosenberg says that while most performers are un-plugging and paring down, Madonna is staging a bodacious blue spectacle frantic with costume changes (there are 1,500 pieces of clothing in the show, not including accessories).

She'll be backed by two singers, four male and four female dancers and a sextet playing the music.

You remember the music, don't ya?

On stage there's reportedly a circular catwalk to evoke a circus-like atmosphere. Not unlike some sort of X-rated Mary Martin, the star will zip up and down the set on pulleys and trapezes. The costumes range from Dr. Zhivago chic to the exhibitionism of the cabaret.

The diversity is "perfectly in line with Madonna's style and with what she feels most -- the 1930s and 1940s -- the most somber male look or the most sexy provocation," said the designers in publicity material. "We started out from a Little Lord [Fauntleroy] inspiration, then moving on to a Baroque with the atmosphere of Visconti . . . We have little [bustiers] tightly closed by string-ties and studded with stones; dressing gowns in chiffon and bordered with lace; bell-bottoms edged in fringes and macrame; very luxuriant brocades, patchworks, velvets and tail-coat jackets."

"Everyone at rehearsal was just amazed at how spectacular this show is going to be," Mr. Nguyen says.

"In terms of staging, in terms of costuming, in terms of set, this show is just full force. And as for her, she works 12-hour days. The lighting, the staging. Everything. She has a staff of 80 and she gets on the mike and directs everything. I just couldn't believe that one person could do this.

"And she doesn't just rehearse parts of the show. She does full run-throughs.

"On Labor Day we were in rehearsal. She'll do two or three run-throughs. That's like doing two or three shows a day. She works and works and works."

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad