by Peter Haas
“I’ve always loved Marilyn Monroe,” says Marissa Mulder, who had been taking an acting class with Sondra Lee. “I felt like I was connected to Marilyn. I started reading about her life, reading her diaries and innermost thoughts. I loved her vulnerability. I wanted to do a show about her.”
The result: “Marilyn in Fragments,” Marissa’s riveting new, seamless solo presentation that has just made its New York debut at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on May 24 with Musical director, at the piano: Jon Weber. Directing: Sondra Lee.
It’s Marissa as we have not seen her before. Dressed simply in a white blouse, black pants and shawl, she inhabits Monroe in straightforward and magnetic style, not attempting to imitate Monroe but as Marissa, with her own warm and vibrant singing, flowing from mood to mood. What speaking Marissa does is taken from Monroe’s diaries, illuminating the actress’s inner life and thoughts, and serving as bridges between the musical numbers. The overall effect is that of a rich and intricate tapestry of emotions and feelings.
Marissa’s songs, twenty-one in all and delivered with simplicity and affection, are drawn from a variety of sources. They include old favorites such as “It’s Only a Paper Moon” (Arlen/Harburg), and “I’ve Got a Crush On You” (George and Ira Gershwin); show songs, ranging from “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” (Cole Porter), “Don’t Rain On My Parade” (Styne/Merrill) and, woven into the story line, “You Can Have the TV” (Carnelia); and contemporary numbers such as “My Coloring Book” (Kander/Ebb), “Hand In My Pocket” (Morrrisette/Ballard), “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (Ashford/Simpson and “The Piano Has Been Drinking” (Watts).
The show reprises at the Laurie Beechman on May 31, June 6 and June 14, at 7 PM.