It’s the early morning hours of August 5, 1962 and, with a gay pool party playing out in his backyard, Hollywood choreographer Jack Cole wakes to devastating news… The death of Marilyn Monroe.
Norma Jeane’s suicide signalled the death of glamorous Hollywood’s innocence and the fizzling out of Cole’s own prestige. We join him – the now-unknown architect behind many of Golden Age Hollywood’s most iconic leading ladies and largely uncredited father of theatrical jazz dance – on this tragic morning.
Visited by legends of the hour Lana Turner, Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth and his former assistant Gwen Verdon, rather than grieve, Cole obsesses over memories of how hard Norma Jeane was to work with. As audiences watch him slowly accept reality and graciously say farewell, they are treated to an intimate and untold true story, and an insightful glimpse behind the glitz of showbiz, into the life of a figure who made it tick.
A two-hander, the play features Tim English as Cole, and a myriad of female demigoddesses including Lana Turner, Norma Jeane, Martha Graham, Ann Miller, Gwen Verdon, Jane Russell, Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth all convincingly embodied by a single actress, Rachel Stanley.
Featuring Cole’s original choreography from as early as his 1938 club act (at New York’s Rainbow Room), famous routines such as Gwen Verdon’s Egyptian Dance from the 1951 movie ‘David and Bathsheba’ and thrilling, never-seen choreography, ‘Goodbye Norma Jeane’ is an extensively researched and thoughtful ode to one of dance’s under-acknowledged heroes. Its first run, under original name ‘Good-bye Miss Monroe’, was nominated for a Matilda Award in 2014 which was followed by a sold-out season in Melbourne, Australia.
Goodbye Norma Jeane is at Above The Stag 16th March – 7th April 2019.