The LA area theater scene has “Marilyn” and “Smokey Joe’s”

Alison Janes as Marilyn, photo by Margie Barron

Alison Janes as Marilyn, photo by Margie Barron

 

“Marilyn…Madness & Me”

 The fascinating new play “Marilyn…Madness & Me” premiered at the historic El Portal Theatre, and runs through October 13. For the opening night gala, the lobby featured items from the personal collection of Marilyn Monroe on loan from The Hollywood History Museum [www.thehollywoodmuseum.com]. Among the treasures were Marilyn’s dress worn to greet the US service men and on her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio, jewelry, personal notes, and, most tragically, the pill bottles found on Marilyn’s bedside table the night she died.

 Viewing those things set up a special connection to the two-person play “Marilyn…Madness & Me,” which takes a look at Marilyn’s life and death from a unique and spellbinding point of view. It tells the fictional tale of a limo driver who got to know her better than anyone else– better than she knew herself.

 Tim (brilliantly played by Adam Meyer) met Marilyn Monroe (Alison Janes capturing her spirit) driving her home from the studio. But he fell in love with Norma Jean, and that changed everything.  The show is a poignant, compelling, and shocking tale of unrequited love, centered around the last months of Marilyn Monroe’s life. The story unfolds with Tim using excerpts from Marilyn’s diary to expose the “truth” behind her death. It is a great and provocative show that will have the “what ifs” lingering in your mind for a long time. Go to www.elportaltheatre.com.

“Smokey Joe’s Café: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller”

 The award-winning hit Broadway show “Smokey Joe’s Café: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller” is turning the Pasadena Playhouse into a bountiful feast of rock’n’roll classics. The feel-good song-and-dance show is playing through Oct. 13 and features the hit songs written by the legendary songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who gave a generation the treasured soundtrack of their lives.

 The musical revue is a showcase for about 40 unforgettable numbers, including “Stand By Me,” “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Love Potion #9,” “I’m A Woman,” “On Broadway,” and many more rock’n’roll standards, plus rhythm and blues, romantic ballads.

 In addition to the songs, marvelous performers, great choreography, and everything else, Stoller said a key ingredient that makes the show such a masterpiece is that “it is directed and choreographed by Jeffrey Polk, who starred and toured with the show for years and knows how to make the magic happen on stage.”

 The cast for “Smokey Joe’s Café” includes LaVance Colley, Kyra DaCosta, Thomas Hobson, Stu James, Adrianna Rose Lyons, Monique L. Midgette, Robert Neary, Michael A. Shepperd, and Carly Thomas Smith.

 There’s no book creating a traditional story for the show, but Stoller believes the revue works because “people create their own story by thinking about where they were, who they were with, and what they were doing when they first heard these songs. But it certainly doesn’t exclude those who are hearing the songs for the first time.

 Every generation can understand the lyrics written by the brilliant Jerry Leiber, a word-man par excellent,” Stoller said in praise of his late songwriting partner. He added, “People are going to have a lot of fun. That’s why it became the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history.” Go to www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org. #


Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to be half of the husband and wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who have written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 30 years.

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