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NY1 Theater Review: "I'll Eat You Last"

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The Divine Miss M is back on Broadway for the first time in more than three decades, as Bette Midler is playing the late Hollywood agent Sue Mengers in the new solo play "I'll Eat You Last". NY1's Roma Torre filed the following report.

Bette Midler doesn't sing, but she's acting up a storm in her solo turn as Hollywood super-agent Sue Mengers. In her prime, Mengers represented such A-listers as Barbra Streisand, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine and Cher. You won't see them in the show, but Midler as Mengers supplies more than enough star wattage to fill the stage.

She's quite a character. I'd say she's a walking stereotype of the take-no-prisoners style of agenting. But she's not much for walking or any exercise for that matter. It prompted a fun gag. Plopped on her sofa, when she needed something from a corner of her spacious Beverly Hills home, she called up an audience member to fetch it for her. The tastefully opulent design is by Scott Pask.

Midler is clearly having a ball in the role. Shrewd, profane and loaded with chutzpah, German-born Mengers was obsessed with movies growing up and claims to have learned English imitating the stars. She actually sounds like a weird mix of Bette Davis and John Wayne.

Smartly directed by Joe Mantello and written by John Logan who won the Tony for his play "Red", "I'll Eat You Last" is a perfect vehicle for Midler. It's bitingly funny and ruthlessly dishy and Midler delivers in her inimitable way, broad and brassy.

Enjoyable as it all is, the 85-minute piece is dramatically thin. Subtitled "A Chat With Sue Mengers", it's just that. The material doesn't go much below the surface. But if you're looking for a good laugh, this is the place. To hear her deliciously dishing about Steve McQueen one minute and then tear up over Julie Harris the next, Miss M is truly divine.

Noting Mengers' love of the movies, a famous line from a Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn film came to mind: And I have to paraphrase: "Not much meat on the thing, but what there is is cherce."

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