The Jewish Voice
Bette Midler Takes a Bite Out of Broadway
WEDNESDAY, 17 APRIL 2013 20:44 BY BRIAN SCOTT MEDNICK
Itâ€™s been 33 years since Bette Midler last appeared on the Broadway stage, but her fans can rejoice as she marks her theatrical return in the one-woman show â€œIâ€™ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers.â€ The play, written by John Logan and directed by Joe Mantello, started previews on April 5 and officially opens on April 24.
In it, Midler plays the late Hollywood agent Sue Mengers, known for her fiery personality and sledgehammer wit. She hobnobbed with such heavyweights as Jack Nicholson, Barbra Streisand, and David Geffen. She was a notorious chain smoker, as well as a smoker of other substances (â€œThe hardest part will probably be acting like Iâ€™m high,â€ Midler told The New York Times.)
A painful part of Mengersâ€™ history is when Streisand fired her in 1981. Midler became friends with Mengers years later, and said she never delved too deeply into the Streisand relationship, which figures into the play. But other friends said the firing was a blow from which Mengers never recovered.
â€œDeep down there was a lot of pain in Sue, especially over Barbra, and you knew it was there even though she rarely let it show,â€ said Boaty Boatwright, an agent and longtime friend of Mengersâ€™.
Midlerâ€™s first Broadway role was a replacement for one of Tevyeâ€™s daughters in the original production of â€œFiddler on the Roofâ€ in the late 1960s. Since then, she has found much success on stage and screen, appearing in such films as â€œThe Roseâ€ (her first Best Actress Oscar nomination), â€œDown and Out in Beverly Hills,â€ â€œRuthless People,â€ â€œBeaches,â€ and â€œFor the Boysâ€ (her second Oscar nomination). She played Mama Rose in a 1993 TV movie of â€œGypsy,â€ and more recently performed in concert at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in â€œThe Showgirl Must Go On.â€ She has also recorded more than a dozen albums and won three Grammy Awards.
â€œIâ€™ll Eat You Lastâ€ is playing at the Booth Theatre on West 45th Street.