By Cate Ervin
After suffering the force of The Northridge Quake in the winter of 1994, the historical treasure that is The El Portal Theatre was not only repaired and rebuilt to its original form, but later added the 99-seat Forum Theatre, named “The Monroe Forum,” after the legendary actress, Marilyn Monroe. Almost 20 years after that force of nature, the first dramatic presentation centered around Ms. Monroe is set to open in the Monroe Forum on Sept. 19.
Marilyn, Madness & Me, written by Frank V. Furino, tells the story of a secret relationship between Marilyn Monroe and a man who purports to have come into possession of her diary the night she died. The story line, says Furino, is a combination of their unique bond and excerpts from Marilyn’s diary, some of which are quite controversial. And certainly the controversies surrounding Marilyn Monroe’s life and death are in themselves the stuff of which legends are born.
“I thought I had heard all there was to hear about the Marilyn mystique,” Furino says. “But this story, beginning just a few months before her death and carrying over for 6 years after it, is one of the more intriguing tales of her life. And what makes it so intriguing are the undeniable elements of truth in it.”
Furino says his eclectic professional background was a major factor in helping him craft the story. “Marilyn’s life was a unique combination of fact and fantasy,” Furino says. “I started my career with ABC News in New York when JFK was assassinated in 1963. Five years later, as a staff director for ABC in Los Angeles, I was in the Ambassador Hotel when his brother Bobby was killed. Having that news background in that era, coupled with my latter career as a writer/producer for primetime TV soaps, including Dynasty, and Dallas, gave me a unique combination of skills and perspectives, all of which helped me bring this story to life.”
The production will be directed by noted stage director Joe Leonardo, whose credits include Larry Gelbart’s City of Angels, as well as It’s Better with a Band in New York, London, and Philadelphia, plus Grand Hotel, Sweeney Todd (Joseph Jefferson Award Winner/1993), and Miss Saigon. His first production of At Wit’s End received 11 Carbonell Award nominations in 2001.
The play, starring young Hollywood actor, Adam Meyer, with the beautiful Alison Janes as the spirit of Marilyn Monroe, is set to open at the iconic El Portal Theatre in the NoHo district of Los Angeles, on Sept. 19 of this year, with a gala reception opening on Sept. 26. Call (818) 508-4200 for tickets and information!