Broadway

Bette Midler's Broadway Play Recoups $2.4 Million Investment

"I'll Eat You Last," about late Hollywood agent Sue Mengers, opened April 24 and runs through June 30.
Bette Midler in "I'll Eat You Last."
Richard Termine

I'll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers, starring Bette Midler as the late, legendary Hollywood uber-agent, has recouped its initial investment of $2.4 million in just over eight weeks on the boards.

The Broadway play, which has broken box office records at the Booth Theatre three separate times during its run so far, opened April 24 and plays through June 30. It marks Midler's first time back on a Broadway stage in nearly 40 years.

Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Wicked) and written by John Logan (Skyfall), I'll Eat You Last received raves from theater critics including THR's own David Rooney, who wrote: "Midler’s consummate ability to deliver brassy chutzpah, fierceness and silky comic seduction at the same time is harnessed to perfection, allowing just a judicious whisper of vulnerability."

Even so, Midler was snubbed for a Tony nomination in this year's uncommonly crowded field of lead actress in a play. That shutout has not hurt business, however, with the production consistently playing to packed houses. Midler's box office drawing power has prompted speculation among theater pundits as to what other shows might lure the Divine Miss M back to Broadway, including a possible revival of the musical Hello, Dolly.

A Jewish refugee from Hitler's Germany, 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.

Lead producers on I'll Eat You Last are Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter, Arielle Tepper Madover, James L. Nederlander and The Shubert Organization.