Arts & Entertainment

Queen Bette

Jeanette Cronin as Bette Davis in Queen Bette.

“The Queen has no hour for love. Time presses, and events crowd upon her. And for a shell, an empty, glistening husk, she must give up all that a woman holds most dear.”

Around about a year after its debut run for the 2015 Mardi Gras season, this intimate one-woman show makes an unexpected but delightful return.

“We feel very lucky to be able to do it again,” said film and stage actress Jeanette Cronin, the sole performer and co-collaborator on Queen Bette.

Cronin was quite arguably born to play the role of Bette Davis, bearing a striking resemblance to the great actress of early Hollywood – this resemblance is what initially planted the idea for the show in the mind of director Peter Mountford.

But this intimate portrait goes beyond the surface, revealing a life of hardships behind the veneer of “Hollywood’s biggest bitch”. Cronin explained: “[This play is] Bette on Bette. She was much appropriated by the press… throughout her life and after her life as well. But this is how Bette saw herself…”

The play is poignantly bookended by the first and second occasions Davis played her personal icon, Queen Elizabeth I. “…The first time was in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, which was in 1939, and then later on in 1955 she played Elizabeth again in The Virgin Queen.”

There’s a wonderful circular nature to this play, as the audience sees Jeanette Cronin as Bette Davis as Queen Elizabeth I.

“It’s really the portrait of an artist, someone who believed in what she was doing and had a great vision for her art, and really implemented a lot of changes. A lot of screen acting as we know it is because of Bette…” added Cronin.

Cronin and Mountford are joined by their original crew from G.bod Theatre for this re-staging. (AM)

SPECIAL: Preview show tickets (Wednesday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd of March) will sell on a ‘pay what you can’ basis starting from $5 each.

Mar 22–Apr 8 (Tues-Sat, 8pm). Old 505 Theatre, 5 Eliza Street, Newtown. $25-$35. Tickets & info: or