- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It’s a weird feeling, attending a Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Best of Both Worlds concert as an unmarried, childless woman and knowing what some parents would do for your ticket.

Had you been in this situation Monday night at the Verizon Center, here’s what you would have encountered.

A half-hour before the show’s 7 p.m. start time, you cautiously approach the venue and are swept up in a flood of moms and dads who, like schoolteachers, are asking their 10-year-olds to number off. The youngsters are wearing at least one of the following: a blond wig, something sequined or one of about 1,000 Hannah Montana T-shirt designs.

A dark-haired woman pushing an empty stroller asks under her breath, “Do you have an extra ticket?” You tell her no as images begin to surface in your mind of people willing to do just about anything to get a piece of the Hannah Montana live experience — from holding onto a statue for six days to writing a fake essay about a father killed while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq.

While an irate parent unleashes her wrath on a will-call clerk, you decide to make moves toward your seat.

It’s becoming dangerous out here.

Before you get inside the arena, though, the 15,000-or-so audience members let out a yell so shrill, so deafening that you ponder getting out while you still can.

Then, at precisely 7:53, a chorus of screams tears through the glow-stick-waving crowd as a crew member steps onstage. The volume swells to a level that might be audible from other planets and stays there until the end of the show (which comes at the family-friendly hour of 9:15).

Finally, she has arrived: Miley Cyrus, the 15-year-old who has become the biggest thing since, well, “High School Musical.” The daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, she’s blasted into the public consciousness as the star of the Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana,” a hit show about a girl who’s juggling being a regular person by day (the character Miley Stewart) and a rock star (Hannah Montana) by night .

Recalling several recent tabloid stories that the young celebrity deftly defused, you marvel at how well Miley is performing the same balancing act. On Monday, she frequently states that she’s “not feeling so good,” and in between her frantic bursts across the stage, she shows it in tired eyes. Still, she knows this crowd has paid good — and in some cases obscene — money to see a top-notch performance, and that’s what she delivers.

She belts out hits from both her No. 1 albums (“Hannah Montana” and “Hannah Montana 2”), spending the first half of the night as the blond-wig-wearing Hannah and the second as her brown-haired (and slightly flirtier) counterpart.

OK, so maybe you’re not so sure those rumors about Miley lip-syncing are unfounded, but this is a concert with a capital C, complete with pyrotechnics, costume changes, confetti cannons, eight dancers and seven backing musicians, elaborate choreography and enough sugary-sweet tween pop to put all the little girls around you into a diabetic coma.

“She’s our idol,” 10-year-old Lexi Littlefield says after the show.

“The only thing that’s going to come out of my mouth tomorrow is Hannah Montana,” adds her friend Rachel Kim, also 10.

Together with three other buddies, the two girls pore over their concert programs (purchased for $20 apiece) and debate what they’ll tell their friends at school the next day.

Watching them, you can’t help feeling a little envious about their excitement…and also slightly guilty that you got to see the ultimate tween dream while some young megafans sat home imagining what it was like.

At least they can catch the movie version of the Best of Both Worlds Concert. It hits theaters Feb. 1.

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