Bette Midler Is Showbiz Agent Sue Mengers in I'll Eat You Last, Beginning April 5 on Broadway

By Andrew Gans
05 Apr 2013

Bette Midler
Bette Midler
Photo by Jonathan Pushnik

John Logan's I'll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers, the one-woman play starring award-winning singer and actress Bette Midler, begins previews April 5 at the Booth Theatre prior to an official opening April 24.

Directed by Tony winner Joe Mantello (Wicked, Assassins, Take Me Out), the production casts Midler as the legendary Hollywood agent Sue Mengers (1932-2011). The intermissionless play is set in 1981 in the living room of Mengers' Beverly Hills home.

The creative team includes three-time Tony Award winner Scott Pask (scenic design), Academy Award winner Ann Roth (costume design), three-time Tony nominee Hugh Vanstone (lighting design), Kathy Fabian (props) and Drama Desk Award winner Fitz Patton (sound design).

"Sue Mengers was an American original," according to production notes. "She was the first female 'superagent' at a time when women talent agents of any kind were almost unheard of. She came from near poverty, a refugee from Hitler's Germany, and worked her way up through pluck, charm, and a legendary wit. In that uniquely American way, she invented herself; and when the career she wanted didn't exist, she invented that as well: 'Superagent.' It was a term Hollywood all but coined for her. By the 1970s, she represented almost every major star in Hollywood and went on to become the town's most renowned hostess."



Playwright Logan, who won a Tony Award for Red and wrote the screenplay for the recent James Bond movie, "Skyfall," said in an earlier statement, "I met Sue Mengers only once, at a dinner party. The kaftan, constant cigarettes, tinted glasses, and perfect blond hair were much in evidence; so too the deliciously wicked wit and stevedore language. But something else fascinated me just as much: a sense of sadness, a deep resignation; a woman whose time had passed her by. At one point I asked her what had changed most about Hollywood since she had arrived. She didn't hesitate for a second: 'Honey, we used to have fun…' Later in the evening she settled back and lit up a joint. There she was: a joint in one hand and a cigarette in the other. At that moment I knew I had to write the play."

Producer Graydon Carter added, "I adored Sue, and no trip to Los Angeles was complete without a dinner at her place. To work with Bette, John, Joe, and my fellow producers Ari, Jimmy, Phil, and Bob to bring her to the Broadway stage is something that I believe would have pleased Sue greatly."

Producer Arielle Tepper Madover said, "The last show I worked on with John was his Broadway debut, Red, which won six Tony Awards and is now being presented all over the world. It is a joy to be continuing our collaboration with this new play."

Bette Midler has earned three Grammys, four Golden Globes, three Emmys, a Tony Award, and sold 30 million records worldwide in a career that spans more than four decades. She has played film roles in "The Rose," "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," "Ruthless People," "Beaches" and "The First Wives Club," among many others. Midler made her Broadway debut in the chorus of Fiddler on the Roof. Other stage performances include Tony Award-winning Clams on the Half Shell; Experience the Divine, for which she holds the all-time record for a six-week engagement at Radio City Music Hall, The Divine Miss Millennium Tour; Kiss My Brass; and The Showgirl Must Go On at The Colosseum in Caesars Palace. Outside the spotlight, she is the founder of the New York Restoration Project (nyrp.org), a non-profit organization that revitalizes abandoned and neglected public spaces across New York City.

I'll Eat You Last is produced by Graydon Carter, Arielle Tepper Madover, James L. Nederlander, The Shubert Organization, Terry Allen Kramer, Stephanie P. McClelland, Jeffrey Finn, Ruth Hendel, Larry Magid, Jon B. Platt, and Scott & Brian Zeilinger.

A limited number of $35 rush tickets (including facility fee) are available for purchase in person at the Booth Theatre box office (222 West 45th Street) when it opens for that day's performance(s) only. There is a limit of two tickets per person. Tickets are subject to availability and may not be offered at all performances.

Tickets, priced $82-$142, are also available by calling (212) 239-6200 or visiting Telecharge.com. The Booth Theatre is located at 222 W. 45th St.