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An Invitation to a Party from Bette Davis

by Gail Sachson 14 Jun 2017 12:16 PM

“All About Bette” entertains our guest blogger Gail Sachson. More chances for you to see it too this summer.


Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning.

“Darlings”, Bette would say, “Get ready for a bumpy ride and straighten your tie.” The Bette Davis we know and love and loathe is alive and coughing from too many  cigarettes on stages in the DFW

area through August. “All About Bette: An Interlude with Bette Davis”, produced by Michael Jenkins’ Starlight Entertainment and written cleverly, engagingly and truthfully by Camilla Carr, opened at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park last weekend. It will be at Stage West in Ft. Worth August 11-12 and at the Stone Cottage in Addison August 16-20. Choose your best date, but regardless, make a date with Bette.

Although “All About Bette” is a one person, two act play, it is also all about the others in Bette’s stormy story. You will meet a multitude of characters as seen through  believable characterizations: her Mother Ruth, her sister Bobby, her lovers, her four husbands ( ” I married men I shouldn’t have gone to dinner with.”) , studio directors and of course, Joan Crawford.

Talented award-winning actress Morgana Shaw IS Bette Davis. She originated and first played the part under Jac Alder’s watchful eye at Theatre Three in 2006 and more recently in 2015 at New York’s Westside Theatre to great applause. With grey wig and a modest Edith Head costume,  Morgana as an eighty-one year old Bette welcomes us, the invited guests, and begins to reminisce.  A flickering imagined newsreel prompts her memory …and ours.

She tells us, “I had to fight to be me,” then reveals her battle scars, as she morphs into a younger Bette Davis fighting for her life and her livelihood. With thrusted chin, stretched mouth, head flung back and constant hair tousling, Morgana is equally believable as Bette, young and old. She swings her arms, swirls her body and  clicks her heels across the stage. She owns the stage and fills the space. Morgana is never out of character, regardless who that character is. The stage is set credibly with just enough props to be convincing: an open trunk for changing clothes and characters, a mirror, a podium and of course, an ash tray to stomp out the ubiquitous cigarette.

“All About Bette” tackles timeless questions of youth, beauty, independence and more. Referred to by the studio as ” the brown little wren”, climbing the slippery ladder to success was not easy, and the reminiscences she shares are snarky and snide, but delivered with a humorous appeal. We empathize with her struggle. We question her thirst for success, yet we are honored to be here with her, for her. We remember her and applaud her because, as she requested  it to be written on her tombstone, “She did it the hard way.”

Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning.