Gentlemen Prefer Blondes will be screened at the BFI on London’s Southbank tomorrow, as part of the ongoing Musicals!season, and with an introduction by programmer Robin Baker. Unfortunately it’s now sold out, which is surely a testament to its enduring popularity – so for any readers lucky enough to get tickets, enjoy!
“Monroe (as gold-digging Lorelei) and Russell (as man-eating Dorothy) are the smartest, sassiest leads found in any musical. Monroe has the boys eating out of her pink silk gloves in the joyfully cynical ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, but Russell almost meets her match in ‘Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love?’ as she tackles a gym full of semi-naked men. A wondrous Technicolor tonic.”
Must Close Saturday: The Decline and Fall Of The British Musical Flop, a new book by Adrian Wright, covers the short-lived 1983 show, Marilyn! The Musical. It failed to win over critics and closed after 156 performances, but its talented star, Stephanie Lawrence, won critical acclaim and that year’s Best Actress award from the Variety Club of Great Britain, as well as a nomination for the Society of West End Theatre awards (now known as the Laurence Olivier awards.)
“The show was intended as a tribute to another popular icon who died young, but it failed to capture the public imagination,” Michael Billington wrote in The Guardian. “The one person who emerged with credit was Stephanie Lawrence. She not only captured the externals of Marilyn Monroe – the wiggle, the walk, the passionate pout, the vocal breathiness – but conveyed the carmined innocence and soft vulnerability within. It should have been her passport to fame but the show failed to live up to its star.”
Her performance is fondly remembered by Monroe fans, and in 1995, she released an album, Marilyn: The Legend, featuring songs from the musical as well as covers of Monroe tracks. Stephanie, who also starred in more successful musicals including Evita, Starlight Express and Blood Brothers and acted on film and television, died suddenly in 2000. Michael Billington described her as “an actress of rare glamour” and “a pillar of British musical theatre”, who nonetheless “never fully achieved the 40-carat stardom that came to her no-more talented peers.”
Megan Hilty, who has starred in hit Broadway musicals such as Nine to Five and Wicked, will appear in the pilot episode of a new TV show, Smash.
Following in the footsteps of Glee, Smash is a comic take on the theatre world. Based on an idea by Stephen Spielberg, the series will feature original songs.
In the pilot, Hilty will play an actress preparing to star as Marilyn Monroe in a Broadway musical. Unfortunately, Hilty’s character is deemed too old for the role, and is relegated to the chorus.
Debra Messing (Will and Grace) will play the show’s lyricist, Julia, while the actor playing the composer, Tom, has not yet been confirmed. The pilot was written by Theresa Rebeck and will be directed by Michael Mayer.