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Theatre Review (LA): Marilyn: Forever Blonde by Greg Thompson at the El Portal

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August 5 is the date of the death of movie icon Marilyn Monroe. Whether murder was involved is still a question for conspiracy theorists, but the mystery surrounding her death at 36 remains a source of infinite fascination for her fans. There is also a lot of speculation about her life and the nature of her talent. The consensus seems to be that she was a lot more talented than people gave her credit for. Her extraordinary beauty was what people noticed first; also the life and innocence behind her eyes.

I went to a wonderful show called Marilyn: Forever Blonde at the El Portal Theatre. The show tells Marilyn’s story through her own words and music. Greg Thompson wrote it for his wife Sunny Thompson. While certainly not a definitive telling (lots of elements are left out, like the fact that her mother had a mental illness, and that Marilyn finally met her father but he wanted nothing to do with her), the portrayal by Sunny Thompson is just about as perfect as one would wish. She captures Monroe’s looks, voice, gestures, the way she sang, and her wit, and, being a natural beauty herself, Monroe’s astonishing allure.

The story is told from the perspective of the photographer who took her last pictures only days before Monroe died. Apparently the star opened up to him and discussed her life openly and frankly. This photographer narrates some of the story as does Marilyn’s acting coach (not Susan Strasberg, who is noticeably absent from the story), and even Joe Di Maggio helps narrate. This device is rather clunky and often confusing. But putting that aside, Sunny Thompson is Marilyn Monroe right down to her famous costumes. Unfortunately the show was only here for a few days as the company embarks on a worldwide tour. The theatre was a near sell-out and if it comes to your area I recommend it.

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About Robert Machray

  • Joey Traughber

    I went to see this wonderful show 3 times! Twice when it played in Jacksonville, FL and once in LA! Sunny’s performance is brilliant and thoughtfully produced! I give it 10 stars! I highly recommend it!