Written by Willard Manus
Directed by T.J. Castronovo
Produced by John Lant & Anne Mesa for Write Act Rep
The story of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio’s relationship has long been a fascination for many.
Both were huge stars when they met and from such completely different backgrounds that their marriage came as quite a shock to all. But Marilyn had a penchant for men who might not have seemed obvious choices to the rest of us.
This play doesn’t only play homage to these two iconic people, it chronicles their relationship in selective moments from their lives, cleverly intimate polaroids of what was a whirlwind romance, a tumultuous marriage and divorce and a long and precious friendship.
Through these fragments of their life together, and apart, we can take some measure of what it was that connected them and what it was that made it impossible for them to be together.
Marilyn is played with sweetness and a particularly wonderful and authentic fragile strength by the sublime Emily Elicia Low. This must be a rather daunting task, to play a woman so loved and so idealized, but Ms Low manages somehow to portray her as just a girl, in many ways. She humanizes her, even as she manipulates and seduces and admits to love affaires. I never once felt I was being shown some pretty picture of Marilyn, a copy of a copy of a copy, so to speak. Whoever Marilyn truly was, Ms Low becomes that part of her that we can relate to, and she does so with an almost uncanny sense of Marilyn. She also captures her style and her image brilliantly not to mention her beautiful physique.
Photos by Willy Sanjuan
L-R): Marilyn Monroe (Emily Elicia Low) and Joe DiMaggio (Rico Simonini) share an intimate moment
The role of Joe DiMaggio is played by Rico Simonini. And I have to say I think he does a brilliant job of portraying this iconic sportsman as much more than just a jock. His love for Marilyn and his struggle to understand it are vivid and real and fully realized by Mr Simonini. A really excellent job.
I can only imagine that years of research went into this production, coupled with a deep love and respect for both Marilyn and Joe. The detail and intimacy of these scenes is really mesmerizing. It’s as if we are a very real part of their lives, and as the years pass by we watch them grow and change in front of us. The writing of these two icons feels accurate historically, but also very natural and fresh.
It is such an interesting way to tell this tale. Chronicling the years in this rhythmic, systematic pattern, while we wait breathlessly in the darkness of the scene changes, anticipating the next glimpse into their lives with an almost voyeuristic intensity.
Photos by Willy Sanjuan
(L-R): Joe DiMaggio (Rico Simonini) helps Marilyn Monroe (Emily Elicia Low) rehearse a scene
If you are at all interested in Marilyn Monroe, or Joe DiMaggio and in particular how two such opposite souls can fall in love and never really fall out it it, in spite of divorce and distance, then I urge you to go and see this rather special play.
It is on a very limited release, so hurry up and get your tickets!!
Joe & Marilyn: A Love Story, The Brickhouse Theatre, 10950 Peach Grove St, North Hollywood.
The play has extended to June 26. Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm
Marilyn Monroe - Emily Elicia Low
Joe DiMaggion - Rico Simonini
Costume Design - Ava Soltani Wiltse
Lighting & Scenic Design - Alonzo Tavares
Stage Managers - Jonathan Harrison, Alonzo Tavares
Operations Manager - Jonathan Harrison
Publicity - Nora Feldman