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Bette Midler Stars in "I値l Eat You Last" at the Booth Theatre
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Bette Midler Stars in "I値l Eat You Last" at the Booth Theatre

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Present:

Bette Midler
In
I値l Eat You Last
(I値l Eat You LastWebsite)
By John Logan

At the
Booth Theatre
222 West 45th Street
NY, NY
212.239.6262

Directed by Joe Mantello

Scenic Design: Scott Pask
Costume Design: Ann Roth
Lighting Design: Hugh Vanstone
Sound Design: Fitz Patton
Advertising & Marketing: Serino/Coyne
Props: Kathy Fabian
Company Manager: Barbara Crompton
Production Manager: Juniper Street Productions, Inc.
Press Representative: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
General Manager: 101 Productions, Inc.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 5, 2013 Matinee


Bette Midler reclines as if she痴 on a 19th century fainting couch, receiving her Broadway audience in the same droll fashion as did her character, Sue Mengers, a retro Hollywood agent who worked with the likes of Barbra Streisand, Faye Dunaway, Candice Bergen and Cher. Mengers had started out with Jack Benny, Gracie Allen, and George Burns, among dozens of celebrities, who rose the publicity and financial ladders along with their agent. Ms. Mengers was a Pre-World War II immigrant from Hamburg, Germany, who settled in Upstate New York with her parents in 1938. Mengers went on to fight for her standing as one of the most powerful agents ever to negotiate for the stars, whose names line the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ms. Midler never stands up, in this intermission-less one-woman show, but rather eyes an eager man in the audience and invites him to fetch cigarettes and her elegant lighter. He actually walks onstage twice, to audience applause.

Ms. Midler actually has both hands busy, with a faux marijuana joint to enhance her faux cigarette, la Mengers habitual chain smoking. But, somehow, Ms. Midler is able to answer her also busy telephone, to talk to Barbra, her dear friend, who痴 been seduced by another agent, or to the director of 鼎hinatown, as she uses creative wit and daring risk to land Ms. Dunaway the lead. Ms. Midler peppers her seamless monologue with language, that, in another context, one would find over-the-top raw and tawdry. But, in Scott Pask痴 gorgeous early 1980痴, Beverly Hills living room, with a very cushiony beige couch and glass coffee table, resting in a blue silky caftan, Ms. Midler morphs her phrases from risqu to refined. The play, itself, by John Logan, needs a strong stage presence, to rivet the audience to the one-sided repartee. Only a witty siren could pull this off with aplomb, and that was exactly Ms. Midler痴 impressive feat. The audience leaned in, as this diva played with us, twisting her hair, posing her hands, holding her cigarette just so. At times she reminded me of Lucille Ball痴 mischievous, wide-eyed poses, a cat chewing her canary.

After a half-hour, the viewer actually feels like a guest at Mengers salon, with a glass of gin on the rocks and something smoking. Even those of us who致e never smoked are drawn into this Cheshire cat feeling. There was also an evocation of Gloria Swanson痴 都unset, a powerful woman who knows that aging is admired only in men. She was resolved to find comfort in whom she痴 become, with no false hope of increased glamour. Her social status, and that of her expansive list of clients, was her current calling card. And, it seemed she and her clients shared an enviable financial status, in those days, as well. Ann Roth痴 caftan is an eye-catcher, and Hugh Vanstone痴 lighting warmed the room痴 ambiance. Fitz Patton痴 sound kept Ms. Midler痴 monologue crisp. Kudos to Bette Midler, and kudos to Sue Mengers.




For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net