It was Barbie’s Dream House come to life at the Forum, where teen sensation Britney Spears convincingly played the role of living doll to a sold-out crowd of look-alike young girls and their tolerant parents, all witness to an elaborate stage spectacle long on special effects but short on redeeming value.
Spears, 18, tucked inside a giant mirror ball, was lowered from high above the stage around 9:30 p.m. (probably past most of the crowd’s bedtimes), and emerged amid explosions and wild colored lights. She was greeted by fantastic screams of happiness from the kids who long ago had used up much of their collective patience sitting through three opening acts, including cloying ABBA cover group A*Teens.
The pressure on Spears to execute a number of dance routines during the opening segment, to the tune of “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” was clear on her face, and so it was no surprise to see that backing tapes provided most of the audible vocals. The fact that her headset microphone was swinging about her face as she ran around “singing” seemed to be the last thing on her mind.
What followed was, no doubt, the kind of exciting show that the kids, who each waved $5 green glowsticks, came to see. The production featured numerous costume changes and a never-ending variety of stage settings: Britney alone under a spotlight; Britney surrounded by dancers; Britney and a couple of female back-up singers; Britney and an acoustic guitarist; Britney high atop giant stilts; Britney and a five-piece rock band.
The accompanying music was properly dumbed-down for the crowd, but did feature styles ranging from dance and rock to pop ballad and Latin samba. Against better judgment, Spears’ paint-by-numbers cover of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was included in the 75-minute production, as was Sonny and Cher’s “The Beat Goes On,” featuring Spears in hippie clothes.
Two encore segments closed the evening with her biggest hits: “Baby One More Time” found our star in a classroom setting dressed in a sassy schoolgirl outfit, while closer “Oops! … I Did It Again,” at nearly 10:45 p.m., was, for the kids, the cherry on top of this big ice cream sundae of a concert.
Despite the apparent symmetry, a traveling circus being held in the Forum parking lot — with its corporate logo-covered big top and exotic large animals — was not part of the concert, though many attendees took advantage of both attractions.