Bette Midler will return to Broadway for the first time in 30 years to play legendary agent Sue Mengers.
The Divine Miss M will star in John Logan’s new play "I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers."
For Midler, it is a chance to return to her theatrical roots at a time when her career is experiencing something of a revival. Largely absent from screens for much of the past decade, Midler is starring in the unexpected family comedy hit "Parental Guidance," which has grossed nearly $70 million worldwide since debuting last month.
The chain-smoking, unapologetically brash Mengers (right) was an icon among the New Hollywood set. In a male-dominated time and profession, she became the first female “super agent," representing the likes of Nick Nolte, Burt Reynolds, Candice Bergen, Ryan O'Neal, Steve McQueen and Barbra Streisand. She rose up the Hollywood ranks despite modest beginnings as a refugee from Nazi Germany. In addition to her professional achievements, her dinner parties were legendary and a ticket to a Mengers' gathering was considered a sign that a new talent had arrived.
Also read: Sue Mengers, Former Super Agent, Dies
Mengers kept her real age secret, although she was widely believed to be around 80 when she died in 2011 after suffering a series of small strokes. Graydon Carter, her friend and the editor of Vanity Fair, first reported Mengers' death in a blog post. Carter is one of the producers of "I'll Eat You Last."
Logan, who wrote the play, won a Tony Award for "Red," which examined the life of painter Mark Rothko. He recently wrote the screenplay for the last James Bond movie, "Skyfall," which has grossed north of $1 billion at the worldwide box office.
Logan said he only met Mengers one time at a dinner party, but he was drawn to her wit and sense of sadness.
“At one point I asked her what had changed most about Hollywood since she had arrived," Logan recalled in a statement. "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.”
Tony Award-winning director Joe Mantello ("Wicked," "Take Me Out") will stage the play. The show will open April 24 at a Shubert theatre to be announced.
Midler got her start appearing in the Broadway productions of "Fiddler on the Roof" and the rock musical "Salvation" in the 1960s, before becoming a Grammy-winning and Oscar-nominated singer and actress.
In addition to her work in films, such as "The Rose" and "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," Midler's stage work includes the Tony Award-winning "Clams on the Half Shell," the Radio City Music Hall concert "Experience the Divine" and "The Showgirl Must Go On," which headlined at The Colosseum in Caesars Palace.