Theater Review: “The role fits Midler like a glove…”

AM New York
’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers
3 stars

4-19-2013 5-44-55 AM

Just imagine the excitement if Bette Midler came to Broadway in a big, splashy musical. What a shame she couldn’t be squeezed into the cast of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” which she helped produce two seasons ago.

Not counting a few limited-run concerts, Midler has not appeared in a Broadway play or musical since she was a replacement cast member in the original “Fiddler on the Roof” in the late ’60s.

She now returns in “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers,” a breezy, gossipy one-woman show in which she plays the late Hollywood talent agent, who at one time represented luminaries such as Barbra Streisand, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine and countless others.

Midler, wearing large glasses and a gown, talks directly to the audience and offers countless anecdotes from Mengers’ career.

Set in 1981 in the living room of Mengers’ Beverly Hills home, it is clear that her career is winding down, with many of her clients deserting her for more powerful corporate entities, but her wicked sense of humor remains in place.

The role fits Midler like a glove and she does not disappoint under Joe Mantello’s direction. And anyone who likes both Midler and gossip about 1970s Hollywood ought to have a good time.

But in light of this rare opportunity to catch Midler onstage, a more substantial meal would have been nice instead of 90 minutes of pure dessert.

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