I Am Not Marilyn at theSpaceTriplex is an interesting look at one of the 20th century’s most iconic faces, Marilyn Monroe, that attempts to look at the woman underneath the Hollywood glamour. That concept of course is not a new one, the public has been trying to understand Marilyn Monroe for far longer than her short life, but this approach from Italian born and London based singer/performer Viviana Zarbo takes a nice approach of looking at the musical legacy of Marilyn Monroe.
I have to admit that this was for me the perfect idea of a show as I have for a long time considered Marilyn Monroe to be not only an under-estimated dramatic actor, but a hugely under-estimated singer and performer with a natural talent for phrasing and timing in a song that could so easily have seen her take a different career path as a singer with an affinity for Jazz and Swing music. That natural ability for singing and performing Jazz/Swing and some of the “Great American Songbook” standards is something that Viviana shares with Marilyn, and a well-structured personal story of her discovery of Marilyn Monroe, the movie icon and the singer, allows us as an audience to understand just how personal some of these songs have become to Viviana over the years as they are delivered with the effortless ease that all good singers of these songs do. That ease of delivery though is deceptive as these songs were written by some of the great songwriters of their time (Cole Porter and Irving Berlin to name but two) and they are never easy songs to sing and get right.
We mostly these days remember Marilyn Monroe for the glamour in her films, but not all films were that image. “River of No Return” and “Bus-Stop” are two examples, and it is often forgotten just how many fine songs Marilyn sang in her movies – “River of No Return” is one such song, and Viviana did a very good job with it. Not in this show, but “One Silver Dollar” from the same film is also a very good example of Marilyn’s vocal talents. Of course, many of the standards, including “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”, “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” and “Bye Bye Baby” are in this show. As the title of the show” I Am Not Marilyn” suggests, this is not a Marilyn Monroe tribute show, but Viviana Zarbo giving her own interpretation of songs sung by Marilyn.
This show is well thought out and presented and smoothly and slickly paced, and the added addition of Stephanie Legg on Saxophone and Chris Neill on keyboard give this whole production a nice vintage Jazz feel. What this show really needs to complete the package is the chance to be performed on-stage at a classic jazz bar venue.
I Am Not Marilyn
Aug 2-10, 12-17
Country: United Kingdom - England
Group: Viviana Zarbo
Review by Tom King