MARLENE @ The Brickhouse Theatre in NoHo, Sundays at 7PM through August 27, 2017
“MARLENE,” a new solo play about the legendary actress, performer, and patriot, Marlene Dietrich, has its world premiere at the Brickhouse Theatre, 10950 Peach Grove Street, NoHo, 91601. The show plays Sundays at 7 PM through August 2.
This stalwart one-woman show starring Cindy Marinangel, written by the prolific Willard Manus, and directed by Judith Rose, takes place in Dietrich’s dressing room in May, 1960, at the Tatiana Palast Theatre in Berlin, just prior to her first recital in that city since fleeing Nazismto America in 1939. She is surrounded by danger as she has received death threats if she goes on with the recital from Nazi sympathizers still present in 1960 Germany. We see Dietrich in her famous black lingerie and silk dressing gown, smoking and dropping Dexedrine’s like they’re M&Ms. A knock comes at her door. She pulls a pistol, given to her by an American General (Dietrich was made a Colonel in the U.S. Army when she entertained U.S. troops), and answers cautiously. It’s an imaginary Sargeant-writer from Stars And Stripes, come to interview her. She invites him in and proceeds to fetchingly tell the story of her life and career.
Dietrich spoke of the film BLUE ANGEL, the Josef Von Sternberg helmed vehicle that made her a star. She credits the director with creating her sultry image. He was a stern taskmaster, bringing her to Hollywood in 1939, having her lose 33 1/3 pounds. Dietrich thought she would do one film in America then return to Germany, but Paramount had other ideas and turned her into an American film star under Von Sternberg’s tutelage. They did seven films together. “I was his disciple not his slave,” says Dietrich.
Dietrich also tells of her “loose” marriage to Rudy, her daughter Elizabeth, and her free-wheeling bi-sexual love life.
She reminisced of her relationships with Ernest Hemingway and Jean Gabin. Ms. Marinangel captivates the Brickhouse audience; a very full house on this balmy Sunday evening. She sings three songs during the uninterrupted-by-intermission hour and a half or so, including a heartfelt rendition of “Lilly Marlene.” Marinangel is in a word, terrific, doing not so much an imitation of the famed actress, but a personal rendition. Writer Manus provides a full, rich narrative that covers just about all the bases (“Witness for the Proescution” is somehow overlooked). The set is authentic and Ken Cosby’s lighting is effectively moody. “MARLENE” is a “must see” so make reservations early as it’s only playing on Sundays.
Cindy Marinangel is Marlene Dietrich
Willard Manus – Playwright
Judith Rose – Director
John Last – Producer for Write Act Repertory
Jonathan Harrison – Also Producer-Stage Manager
Ken Cosby – Lighting
Cal Bezemer & Robert Smokey Miles – Music (recorded)
Plays Sundays through August 27th, 2017 at The Brickhouse Theatre, 10950 Peach Grove Street, NoHo 91601. Call 1-800-838-3006 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3034406 for tickets and information.