Although the Tony nominators gave her a poke in the eye, most of Broadway loves Bette Midler in â€œIâ€™ll Eat You Lastâ€ and is delighted sheâ€™s back on the legitimate stage after an absence of 35 years.
So what should she do next?
The Nederlanders, who own several Broadway theaters, have long wanted her to star in a revival of Jerry Hermanâ€™s â€œHello, Dolly!â€
And they arenâ€™t the only ones.
On a recent installment of â€œTheater Talk,â€ which I co-host on Channel 13/WNET, Peter Marks, the influential drama critic for the Washington Post, also suggested Bette â€œput on her Sunday clothesâ€ and take a stab at the role that made Carol Channing famous in 1964.
Bette Midler, back on Broadway again, is everyoneâ€™s choice for a future revival of â€œHello, Dolly!â€
The 1964 original made a star of Carol Channing (above), with David Burns.
â€œWouldnâ€™t you love to see her do â€˜Hello, Dolly!â€™ â€? Marks asked his colleagues, Ben Brantley of the Times and Joan Rivers of the Beverly Hills Courier (yes â€” the Joan Rivers).
â€œYes! In a hot minute!â€ Rivers said.
â€œThat would be fabulous,â€ Brantley added.
â€œAnd it would sell like crazy,â€ Marks said. â€œI just saw it in Washington, and itâ€™s a tight show. Itâ€™s a lot better than your memory of it being a sort of schlocky show. And she would bring something completely different to it.â€
Now let me see.
The Nederlanders are willing to put up the money and give her a theater. And three of the most powerful critics on the planet â€” Joanâ€™s readers in Beverly Hills pay premium prices! â€” are on the record enthusiastically endorsing the idea.
Sounds to me like something she should consider.
â€œSure â€” it would be great, but good luck getting her,â€ says a veteran Broadway producer. The Nederlanders have approached her a number of times in the past, but sheâ€™s always turned them down.
She didnâ€™t, Iâ€™m told, want to return to Broadway and have to carry a $12 million revival on her back. â€œThat would be work,â€ an insider says. â€œAnd sheâ€™d have to negotiate the staircase.â€
But now that sheâ€™s got her feet wet with â€œIâ€™ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers,â€ a fun but slight play, sources say sheâ€™s ready to tackle something more ambitious the next time out.
And consider this: If the revivalâ€™s halfway decent, thereâ€™s no way sheâ€™d go home without a Tony nomination.
Who would dare snub the Divine Miss M in a musical?
So think it through, Bette, and give me a call when youâ€™ve decided. Iâ€™ll make the announcement.