dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Norma Jeane – The Musical review at Lost Theatre, London – ‘a mixed bag’

Sarah Rose Denton and Joanne Clifton in Norma Jeane The Musical at Lost Theatre, London. Photo: David Elms
by -

As the world commemorates what would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday, it seems appropriate that director Christopher Swann chooses to revive Norma Jeane The Musical. Originally staged at Ye Olde Rose and Crown in 2015, the show attempts a psychological exploration of Monroe’s early life, while she is held incognito in a Manhattan mental asylum. Based on true events, TL Shannon’s book may lack a spontaneity, but it does provide a unique premise on which to build a musical.

In transferring to the Lost space, the show has certainly upped its production values. Peter Bingemann’s brutalist set design makes inventive use of the stage, while James Thacker’s recreation of Monroe’s signature costumes add a splash of glamour. The addition of a live band is a genuine pleasure but the score, written by a variety of composers, remains a mixed bag, still lacking a cohesive, narrative thread. Geoff Cotton’s In My Mind stands out as one of the stronger numbers, a duet between Sarah Rose Denton’s fragile Norma Jeane and Joanne Clifton’s self-assured Monroe.

Given top billing, the Strictly Come Dancing star proves to be one of the highlights, delivering a finely tuned physical impersonation of the 1950s icon. Her body never still, Clifton not only demonstrates some intuitive comic timing but also captures the artifice of Monroe’s screen persona.  Choreographer Adam Scown injects some lively dance routines into the mix but all too often, the songs don’t quite live up to the numbers Monroe is associated with.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
Mixed bag of a song cycle featuring a creditable star-turn as Monroe
^