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The Marilyn Monroe Show

Musical in 2 Acts. Book, music and lyrics by Michael Dresser


This innovative new musical takes place in the seconds before the death of Marilyn Monroe on August 5th 1962. Together Norma Jeane, Marilyn and their intellectual alter ego Zelda Zonk laugh, cry and fight their way through their memories of the most famous life and death in movies, revealing the innocence, ambition and flaws behind the myth. 



Scene One Ladies and Gentlemen…for one night only welcome to the Marilyn Monroe Show! In true cabaret style, Marilyn makes her grand entrance onto the stage as she introduces her fellow performers, Norma Jeane and Zelda Zonk, and explains that ‘M Is For Me’.
Scene Two The show gets off to an unconventional start when the three women decide to ditch the script in favour of telling their true story. And where better to begin than the beginning. They sit, telling stories about the early days of Marilyn’s life. Norma recalls that though life was hard, movies were the one thing that kept life bearable, imagining it was herself up on the silver screen, ‘In My Dreams’.
Scene Three Something strange begins to happen…as the three women reminisce, people from their past begin to intrude onto the stage. Before they know it Norma and Jimmy Docherty are reliving their teenage wedding. Everything seems fine until Jim is drafted overseas in the war and returns to find that Norma has her own modelling career. In ‘Blah and Blah’ the couple reflect on how the marriage has become nothing more than a series of banalities. But by now Norma has realised that she has the potential to really be 'Someone' when she gets her first job in Hollywood as a starlet.
Scene Four Marilyn soon discovers that it is tough fighting her way to the top but by the end of ‘M Is For Me’ she has won recognition and is sitting pretty, about to become the new princess in Hollywood.
Scene Five She meets Johnny Hyde who is soon her lover, then her agent. But when he dies suddenly just as her career is starting to take off, she is left to fend for herself and she wonders, ‘Coming Back To Life’, how she can possibly carry on.
Scene Six Marilyn meets Joe DiMaggio and the pair embark on a whirlwind romance culminating in what turns out to be a disastrous marriage. Angered by her enjoyment of her rising status as an international sex symbol, Joe becomes increasingly belligerent and they finally concede that staying together is ‘Too Much’ and agree to go their separate ways.
Scene Seven Hounded by the studio and the press, Marilyn wonders, disconsolately, what to do with her life. Zelda suggests a new start in New York where she has no ghosts and nobody expects anything of her. Norma tells Marilyn to ‘Close Your Eyes’ and the three sing hopefully of new horizons, as they set off for the East coast and a better tomorrow.


Scene One In New York Marilyn unveils her new ambitions at a press conference. She is desperate to show off her new-found intellectual confidence in her fight against control by the Hollywood studios. She tells the press that ‘M is For More’, but they refuse to take her seriously.
Scene Two Virtually a prisoner of her own fame, Marilyn is desperate to begin this new life she dreamt of away from Hollywood. Zelda shows her the art of disguise and how to have fun with it. Their confidence growing, the three women drop into shops, parties and even begin a clandestine affair with Arthur Miller without attracting any attention because ‘Nobody Knows’.
Scene Three As the affair with Arthur deepens, the couple are torn by their need for each other coupled with the total incompatibility of their lifestyles. They are driven closer together by the McCarthy witch-hunts and are married in a whirlwind of publicity. They travel to England where Marilyn is to make a film with Laurence Olivier.
Scene Four In England, there is finally time and space to take stock of things and Marilyn suddenly realises that her life with Arthur is ‘Too Good To Be True’. They have both put each other on a pedestal and the relationship is doomed. She takes to her bed with Zelda, and Norma, trying to fend off crippling feelings of self-loathing and doubt which the nights bring. She becomes more dependant on drink and drugs, leading to a miscarriage and eventually an attempted overdose. Having lost a baby and losing a husband, Marilyn is left ‘Wondering’ what could have been….
Scene Five With her marriage to Arthur in tatters, Marilyn returns to Hollywood but the vultures are circling and she realises that ‘Something’s Got To Give’. Joe returns to her life, providing a little stability. But where is the truth amongst all the rumours?
Scene Six Throughout the show Marilyn, Norma Jeane and Zelda have become increasingly at odds with each other over who is in control of the stories they are telling. Now the relationship between them reaches breaking point as Zelda loses control, pushing Norma Jeane and Marilyn away in a desperate bid to be recognized for her own worth. But the more she tries to grab her independence the more the show descends into chaos. Marilyn, Norma Jeane and those around them desperately plead with Zelda to 'Wake Up' to the havoc she is wreaking but with the bond between them broken, chaos ensues and in a horrible parody of Marilyn, Zelda must ‘Say Goodbye’ before she collapses and their story is finally over.

Musical Numbers

  1. Wake Up
  2. In My Dreams
  3. Blah And Blah/Someone/M Is For Me
  4. Coming Back To Life
  5. Too Much
  6. Close Your Eyes
  7. M Is For More
  8. Wondering
  9. Something's Got To Give
  10. Something's Got To Give (Reprise)