A Night At The Theatre: Bette Davis Ain’t For Sissies

(Photo courtesy of Jessica Sherr)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

Many millennials and members of Generation Z might ask,“Who’s Bette Davis?” Thankfully, actress and playwright Jessica Sherr has the answer.  In her one woman show, Bette Davis Ain’t For Sissies, Ms.Sherr transforms into the two-time Oscar-winning acting icon who transports theatregoersto the 20th century.

Warning! Spoilers are ahead!

Bette Davis Ain’t For Sissies takes place in February 1940. The legendary actress exited the Oscars after The Los Angeles Times leaked the results and sadly, she lost the award to Gone with the Wind’s Vivien Leigh. Bette Davis  vented to the audience her frustration of losing the Best Actress Oscar by trying torehearse her lines for Juarez.

However, she is interrupted by phone calls from her mother, Ruthie; her friend, Olivia de Havilland, and fellow silver screen icon HumphreyBogart.  After taking these calls, Davis revealed her origin story to the audience. The actress spoke about the challenges that she faced against the Men of Hollywood.  From Carl Laemmle’s snide comments that led to her exodus from Universal Pictures to facing off against Jack Warner and WarnerBros. Studios in London, Bette Davis brilliantly shared details on how shefought not only for herself, but for other actors to have the power to choosetheir roles.

Despite that loss, Davis recovered and delivered some of the best performances of her career with Dangerous’ Joyce Heath and Jezebel’s Julie Marsden. However, she also shared significant strife in her personal and professional life that set her back until two films, All About Eve and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? helped re-establish her career.

End of Spoilers.

Before this play’s creation, there was not enough material for the newer generations to watch to get the proper picture of Miss Bette Davis. They had to go watch drag performers or comedians (like Mario Cantone) give over the top impressions of the All About Eve actress. However, Jessica Sherr is the first actress of our generation that delivered a performance that truly paints a brilliant portrait of the larger-than-life entertainer.

Sherr’s one-woman show also introduced new facts that would be interesting to newcomers to the Bette Davis fandom. One segment that particularly funny was how she flirted with the enigmatic Howard Hughes. Another segment that the audience would find interesting would be the time that her legendary rival, Joan Crawford, visited her andbrought the book that would restart their careers.

Final Thoughts & Grade:  Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies is not only a remarkable show would be to be on the Broadway stage. Also, I truly believe that this show particularly funny to make Jessica Sherr a star. A

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Copyright 2019 Jacob Elyachar