Front Row Center
By Michael Warren
By David Lewis
Directed by Peggy Lord Chilton
This pre-season fundraiser is a one-woman show, featuring a stellar performance by Candace Luciano as “Marilyn” looking back on her life in the hours and days before her death in 1962. At the time Marilyn Monroe was chronically depressed and addicted to barbiturates; in the previous year she had undergone surgery for endometriosis, had a cholecystectomy, and spent four weeks in hospital care – including a brief stint in a mental ward. But the author chooses to water down most of her real life struggles, and presents us with a sugar-coated Marilyn.
Candace Luciano gave us an extraordinary rendering of Marilyn, true to her style and mannerisms. She held the stage with confidence, and deserves a special award for the largest number of lines memorized and delivered while changing costume on stage. During the play a back projection screen showed pictures of Marilyn earlier in her life, or shots from her movies. J. E. Jack (aka “JJ”) put this together and found some rare footage which was illuminating and interesting. Congratulations, JJ! By the way, I didn’t see a mention of Some Like It Hot which is one of my all-time great movies, and one for which Marilyn Monroe won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. Did I miss something?
Unfortunately, the play is not worthy of Candace’s performance and JJ’s ingenuity. We mostly know about Marilyn Monroe’s difficult life and her development as a sex symbol, so the play lacks tension. Some more anecdotal material would have been good, either about her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, or her contract battles with the studios. She certainly wasn’t a dumb blonde. The author recognized that fact, and gave her some smart lines – though in my opinion she should have suffered more and been even smarter.
Peggy Lord Chilton staged the show with her usual professional touch, and Beth Leitch was an efficient Stage Manager. I should also mention Johanna Clark in Wardrobe for the costumes which were beautiful and appropriate to the period. Thanks to all for putting on this pre-season fundraiser, and special thanks to Candace Luciano for her performance. Marilyn would have been proud of her.