For anyone seeking some biographical information about super agent to the A-list stars Sue Mengers during her heyday of 1970’s Hollywood just GOOGLE. If you desire to see the next to the real thing and get the inside dish with some juicy added embellishments just fork over some dough to see The Divine Miss M in all her glory acting out the role in John Logan’s one woman talk-a-thon I’LL EAT YOU LAST – a chat with Sue Mengers (although she does all of the chatting in this 85 minute inside LA Confidential monologue) at the Booth Theatre where Ms. M has just broken the house record.
Bette Midler is in top form. Sitting throughout on a divine sofa plush with pillows in a divine house (décor by Scott Pask) that once belonged to Zsa Zsa Gabor with a pool somewhere outside (but that’s not important) wearing a divine caftan designed by Edith Head – sorry I mean Ann Roth circa 1981.
What is important is that Mengers (who died in 2011) is hosting one of her infamous dinner parties and has just been informed by the lawyers of her used to be best friend Barbra Streisand that her services will no longer be needed. There is a new agency on the block CAA (Creative Artists Agency – ironically the playwright’s rep) and the winds of change are blowing at hurricane force and clients are jumping ship.
Looking radiant after an absence of more than thirty years on Broadway and fit as a fiddle and ready for just about anything including profanity, smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use and gossip that we have been warned about on the show curtain Bette Midler basks in the glow of her adoring fans who by play’s end adore her even more for her grand performance that has been coaxed on by director Joe Mantello. Between the two, strategic smoking and drinking have been timed precisely to get every laugh line there is. And Midler knows how to prolong and milk a laugh till its dry.
She tells us, while waiting for La Streisand to call, about her rise from a German/Jewish waif to receptionist to super agent to such luminaries as Julie Harris, Gene Hackman, Faye Dunaway, Ali McGraw and Sissy Spacek. And how to go about being a super agent. Like her. When someone said “No” she heard “Maybe”. Most of the anecdotes are hilarious as told by the Divine Miss M.
Sue Mengers first and foremost wanted to have fun. And she did. And Bette continues to do so, especially when she beckons an unsuspecting guy from the audience to fetch her cigarettes and vodka – after removing his shoes so as not to soil her newly cleaned carpet.
Brash, outspoken, fearless with a self made image and determination of steel could be used to describe both Mengers and Midler. Both have done it their way. And we are the grateful recipients of a great performance about a great super agent. It’s delish. Go see it.
www.illeatyoulast.com A strictly limited engagement through June 30th. Opened April 24th the birthday of Streisand.
Photos: Richard Termine
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