Bette Midler Pushes B’way’s ‘I’ll Eat You Last’ Into the Black

Play recoups its $2.4 million capitalization costs in about eight weeks

“I’ll Eat You Last,” the Broadway play toplined by Bette Midler, has become one of the first of the spring’s shows to make it into the black, according to producers, with the show recouping its $2.4 million capitalization well ahead of its June 30 finish.

Although weekly grosses for the show haven’t been in the million-plus range of Tom Hanks starrer “Lucky Guy,” the show, which began perfs April 5, still reps one the season’s major successes. Playing at the Booth Theater, which at 777 seats is one of Broadway’s smallest houses, the show has played to sold-out houses and seen sales rise past $850,000 for a single frame. Last week the average price paid per ticket, a reliable barometer of audience demand for a show, was a robust $149.

Because most musicals are much more expensive to mount than plays, tuners rarely recoup before the end of the season in which they open. However, successful plays, often powered by star thesps, sometimes manage it, with “I’ll Eat You Last” this season joining a short list of profitable plays including Al Pacino topliner “Glengarry Glen Ross,” Jessica Chastain starrer “The Heiress” and “Lucky Guy.”

Success of “I’ll Eat You Last” comes despite the lack of love from the Tonys, which shut the entire production out of the nominations list. Sales over the rest of the production’s run will be pure profit, minus the solo show’s weekly running costs.

Helmed by Joe Mantello (“Wicked”), the play by John Logan (“Red”) centers on Hollywood tenpercenter Sue Mengers, one of the first female superagents to rise to prominence in the 1970s.

“I’ll Eat You Last” is produced by a team that includes Graydon Carter, Arielle Tepper Madover and James L. Nederlander, among others.

More Legit

  • Because of Winn Dixie review

    Regional Theater Review: 'Because of Winn Dixie,' the Musical

    Watching the musical “Because of Winn Dixie” at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Conn., it’s hard not to think of another show that premiered in the same regional theater 43 years ago. It, too, featured a scruffy stray dog, a lonely-but-enterprising young girl and a closed-off daddy who finally opens up. But “Winn Dixie,” based [...]


    Off Broadway Review: 'Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow'

    There’s something about Anton Chekhov’s whiny sisters that invites comic sendups of “Three Sisters” like the one Halley Feiffer wrote on commission for the Williamstown Theater Festival. Transferred to MCC Theater’s new Off Broadway space and playing in the round in a black box with limited seating capacity, the crafty show feels intimate and familiar. [...]

  • the way she spoke review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Way She Spoke' With Kate del Castillo

    Since the 1990s, scores of women in Juarez, Mexico have been mutilated, raped, and murdered at such a rate that some have called it an epidemic of femicide—killing women and girls solely because they are women. Isaac Gomez’s play “the way she spoke,” produced Off Broadway by Audible and starring Kate del Castillo, confronts the [...]


    Brian Cox Playing LBJ in Broadway Run of 'The Great Society'

    Brian Cox will play President Lyndon Johnson in the Broadway run of “The Great Society,” playwright Robert Schenkkan’s follow-up to “All the Way.” The role of Johnson, a crude, but visionary politician who used the office of the presidency to pass landmark civil rights legislation and social programs, was originally played by Bryan Cranston in [...]

  • Paul McCartney Has Penned Score for

    Paul McCartney Has Been Secretly Writing an 'It's a Wonderful Life' Musical

    The pop superstar who once released a movie and album called “Give My Regards to Broad Street” really does have designs on Broadway, after all. It was revealed Wednesday that Paul McCartney has already written a song score for a stage musical adaptation of the 1946 Frank Capra film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The [...]

  • The Night of the Iguana review

    West End Review: 'The Night of the Iguana' With Clive Owen

    If Tennessee Williams is the poet laureate of lost souls, none of his characters as are off-grid as the restless travelers trying to make it through his little-seen 1961 play, “The Night of the Iguana.” Holed up in a remote Mexican homestay, its ragtag itinerants live hand-to-mouth, day by day, as they seek refuge from [...]

  • Moulin Rouge Broadway

    Listen: The Special Sauce in Broadway's 'Moulin Rouge!'

    There are songs in the new Broadway version of “Moulin Rouge!” that weren’t in Baz Luhrmann’s hit movie — but you probably know them anyway. They’re popular tunes by superstars like Beyoncé, Adele and Rihanna, released after the 2001 movie came out, and they’ll probably unleash a flood of memories and associations in every audience [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content