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Bette Midler Returns to Broadway as Uber-Agent Sue Mengers

Midler will star in "Skyfall" screenwriter John Logan's new single-character play about Hollywood's first female super-agent, directed by Joe Mantello.
Bette Midler
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for CDG

NEW YORK – The Divine Miss M will be back on Broadway this spring, playing another Miss M who also acquired legendary status in the '70s.

Returning to the Great White Way after more than three decades, Bette Midler will star in John Logan's single-character play I'll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers.

Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Wicked), the play will open April 24 at a Broadway theater to be announced. No date has been set for the start of previews.

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Lead producers on the project are Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, marking his first foray into theater, Arielle Tepper Madover, James L. Nederlander and The Shubert Organization.

A Jewish refugee from Hitler's Germany, Sue Mengers was the most powerful female talent agent in movie history and a hard-driving force behind many of the key filmmakers and actors of the new Hollywood, from the 1960s through the early '80s. Some of her more high-profile clients included Faye Dunaway, Bob Fosse, Barbra Streisand, Steve McQueen, Ryan O'Neal, Burt Reynolds, Candice Bergen, Mike Nichols, Sidney Lumet and Peter Bogdanovich.

"I met Sue Mengers only once, at a dinner party," said Logan. "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.”

A Tony winner for his two-hander about Mark Rothko, Red, Logan's prolific screenplay work includes Skyfall, as well as Gladiator, The Aviator and Hugo, all three of which earned him Oscar nominations.

I'll Eat You Last is one of two new stage works Logan will debut in the spring. Michael Grandage will direct the world premiere in London's West End of Peter and Alice, starring Skyfall castmates Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw. That play chronicles the brief encounter at a 1932 Lewis Carroll exhibition of the real-life inspirations for Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. It runs March 9-June 1.

Midler made her Broadway debut as a replacement cast member in the original 1964 production of Fiddler on the Roof. She returned in three separate concert shows, the most recent of them Bette! Divine Madness in 1980. She was one of the producers in 2011 of the Broadway musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Midler is currently on screens nationwide opposite Billy Crystal in the comedy Parental Guidance.

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