March 8, 2010

Hollywood Hearts - Marilyn ... Forever Blonde, a review

  My sweet husband, Bruce, was my date for the one-woman show, MarilynForever Blonde. I didn’t know what to expect other than one woman playing Marilyn Monroe. I’m sharp like that. Let me tell you, it was simply wonderful. Set in 1962 near the end of her life, the entertainment ran a solid 90 minutes. No forgotten lines, no stumbles, no missed cues. We were seated three rows from the iconic star herself. Singer, dancer and actress Sunny Thompson had morphed into Miss Monroe. She had the overall look, complete with the short white wild wonderful hair, the figure (her dresses were skintight), the blue eyes (white shadow with black liquid liner), red lips and that breathy speaking and singing voice.
     As the show began, the small hall of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Florida, turned pitch black. Then came the sound of the shutter on a camera as photography lights flashed once - and there SHE was, a split second of Marilyn posing on a bed covered in a white satin sheet.
Like the black page of a picture album, a quick splash of light would reveal Marilyn in another and then another pose.
     The staging was simple and effective. When the lights came on we saw the all white 1960s living room set to the right of the centered bed, which was on a raised platform. The hi-fi was playing Frank Sinatra. To the left of the bed were her makeup vanity and a changing screen. Revealing gowns, high heels and a bathrobe or two made up her wardrobe, punctuated with plenty of diamond jewelry when the song, Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, called for them. This Marilyn’s dozen or so songs from her movies were mostly sung a capella and her pitch, to this handbell ringer’s ear, was on the mark.
     Greg Thompson, producer of the show as well as Sunny’s husband, culled written and recorded interviews to create this play from Marilyn’s very own words. Marilyn spoke of her childhood, her name change from Norma Jean, her intimate climb up the studio ladder by way of the older executives who had brains and money. She spoke of her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller. The former did not want other men ogling his wife and the latter, Marilyn thought, was too smart for her. No children, no true love and no real friends, she tries to forget her sad sufferings with a half magnum of Dom Perion (ginger ale, I suspect) on stage.
     I think the audience could have spent another couple of hours listening to that voice and those funny and heart-warming and sentimental words, but I also think the length of the play was just right, leaving the audience wanting more. It was a grand experience and congratulations to Sunny Thompson. She fulfilled Marilyn’s wish. “I just want to be wonderful.”
     If you want to see Sunny Thompson online, go to There are videos and stills and more info.