Come Dish the Dirt with Talent Agent Sue Mengers

  

BONNNIE GOLDBERG

Imagine a client list that included such luminaires as Barbra Streisand, Cher, Burt Reynolds and Steve McQueen. These A-List stars were part of Sue Mengers' stable as a Hollywood talent agent who wasn't afraid of the big boys because she was one herself. You're invited to sit down on Sue's elegant and comfortable couch and dish deliciously with her, with both wit and wisecracks, and plenty of profanity and pluck.

TheaterWorks of Hartford is providing an intimate and colorful portrait of the magnificent Ms. Mengers and all her mighty machinations in Josh Logan's "I'll Eat You Last" until Sunday, August 23.

Karen Murphy embodies the spirit of this feisty and ferocious feeder of film star fame as she protects her cubs and fights off any and all predators. With skill and style, she forges deals like the powerbroker she is, at a time in the 1970's when Hollywood was an exciting arena.

Sue Mengers traveled a long way from her immigrant beginnings in Germany, when she arrived knowing no English, to rise to a position as a feared and revered seller of souls. Like a Dr. Faustus, she bargained and made deals with a brassy aggression that marked her style. Want to listen to a little juicy gossip, like to hear names dropped like pearls on a cultured necklace, care to dish about her famous "twinklies," than this is just the show for you. Karen Murphy is spot on terrific as Mengers, words, weapons and warts.

Mengers credits cutting her incisors way back in grammar school when she walked across the playground and introduced herself to the class queen. She was not rejected then and that incident gave her the courage and chutzpah to fight her battles in the Coliseum of show business lions, without apology or regrets.

When we meet her, on a delightful set designed by John Coyne, she is coolly awaiting a call from Barbra, a call confirming what Ms. Streisand's team of lawyers has already conveyed, that Ms. Mengers' services are no longer desired. That fact has been making itself all too clear lately with her client list dwindling, but she is not ready to throw in the crying towel any time soon. Don Stephenson directs Karen Murphy in a true bravura turn as this fearsome and fearless female.

For tickets ($50-65), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Come early to enjoy the artwork in the gallery upstairs.


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