Posted in Bette Midler, expectations, Far From Heaven, high expectations, Kelli O'Hara, low expectations, Sue Mengers

Meeting or exceeding expectation

Expectations met make for a delightful experience. Who doesn’t like to be right? The satisfaction of seeing a top-quality performance is much greater than that of knowing what’s going to misfire.

Bette Midler stars as Sue Mengers in “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers,” at the Booth through June 30th. Photo by Richard Termine.

In “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers,” John Logan’s new play at the Booth Theatre through June 30th, the Divine Miss M (and I’ll bet even she’s tired of this moniker attached to everything she does) meets all the highest expectations! Bette Midler makes a divine Sue Mengers, the king-making and contentious Hollywood agent who died in 2011.

Sitting in Sue Mengers’ sumptuous living room, designed by Scott Pask, Midler embodies all the qualities for which Mengers was famous. It’s such a natural performance, Midler just inhabits Sue Mengers. Under Joe Mantello’s direction, Bette Midler’s Sue Mengers is funny, charming, difficult, combative, abrasive irreverent and very entertaining.

The man in the Booth box office warned that there would be no singing in this show, but Bette Midler’s acting sings nonetheless.

“I’ll Eat You Last…” is an intimate and gossipy pleasure.

Julianna Rigoglioso as Janice, Jake Lucas as David and Elainey Bass as Sarah in “Far From Heaven,” Richard Greenberg’s new play at Playwrights Horizons through July 7th. 

Unfortunately, the low expectations we had going in for “Far From Heaven,” at Playwrights Horizons through July 7th, were also exceeded. Richard Greenberg’s book is based on the Todd Haynes motion picture of the same name, with music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie, none of which adds much to the rather thin tale.

As “Far From Heaven” opens, Cathy Whitaker (Kelli O’Hara) is a typical and very conventional New England housewife circa 1957, enjoying the beauties of her home and family. Spoiler alert for those not familiar with the film, Cathy’s story can be summed up as: my husband, Frank (Steve Pasquale) is gay and I’m in love with the gardener, Raymond (Isaiah Johnson).

Kelli O’Hara as Cathy and Isaiah Johnson as Raymond in “Far From Heaven.” Photo by Joan Marcus

“Far From Heaven” is an operetta, and the orchestra’s over-playing the singers interferes with the players’ storytelling. The fine cast are excellent; Kelli O’Hara gives a grand performance; Isaiah Johnson as her love interest is superb. Steve Pasquale is a perfectly despicable Frank Whitaker, torn between what he thinks is normal and what he wants. (See an extended review by TB at VevlynsPen.)

For more information about “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers,” visit To learn more about “Far From Heaven,” visit

Posted in Berry Gordy, Bette Midler, Cicely Tyson, Cinderella, Cuba Goodng Jr, Father's Day, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sue Mengers, The trip to Bountful

What are you doing this weekend? A few select suggestions:

 See Bette Midler play Sue Mengers, or go see “Motown The Musical” or you could head home to Bountiful, TX…. 

Bette Midler is the perfect hostess in “I’ll Eat You Last,” as she invites the audience into her home, well, Sue Mengers’ home.  Click above for review and details, but there are only a few performances left, and honestly, you should not miss this one. Closing June 30th.

Love the music that came out of Detroit in the late ’50s and early ’60s? Come relive the era with “Motown The Musical.” Tickets aren’t discounted on the usual sites, but go ahead and treat yourself after you click on the links for our reviews, at any rate. (See also, Gordy Tells His Story on VP as well as the review on this site.)

There are discounts for “The Trip To Bountiful,” for which Cicely Tyson won the Tony. (For discounts check on, among others.) Cuba Gooding, Jr. makes his stage debut in this lovely production.

Off-Broadway, there’s “Cornelius” by JB Priestley at 59E59 Theaters’ Brits Off Broadway. The play takes place during tough economic times during the 1930s, but you can relate, right? [Also closing on June 30th.]

Alan Cox and Col Farrell in J.B. Priestley’s “Cornelius,” directed by Sam Yates, part of Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

It plays only on Wednesdays, but plan to attend a matinee or evening performance before July 31st:
“Unbroken Circle” (review) at the St Luke’s Theatre.
Photo by Bill Selby

Looking for romance and dancing? “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” can take you on a waltz-filled adventure. It won a Tony for the spectacular costumers, but it’s a genuinely enjoyable production.

Looking for something a bit … smaller? St Ann’s Warehouse in Dumbo is celebrating toy theater from June 14th to the 23rd. It’s the Tenth International ToyTheater Festival. Check it out. Photo below is courtesy

Great Small Works, and features Barbara Steinitz and Bjorn Kollin presenting “Schnurzpiepegal,” a picture book that comes alive. 

Another highlight of the festival is Janie Geiser’s “The Reptile Under the Flowers,” which incorporates mechanical objects, puppetry, small projections in twelve diorama scenes of a peepshow spectacle. Don’t know about you but “Toy Theater” appeals to my love of minatures.

Janie Geiser’s “The Reptile Under the Flowers,” courtesy Great Small Works