By Kenneth Jones
09 May 2012
|Photo by Will Hart/NBC|
The final image at the end of the first Boston preview of the Broadway-bound musical Bombshell is of drowsy, pill-filled Marilyn Monroe (as played by movie star Rebecca Duvall, played by series guest star Uma Thurman) twisted in satin bedsheets talking on the phone and murmuring a reprise from the song "Second Hand White Baby Grand," about something discarded still being beautiful and valuable. A broken mirror in the stage floor is revealed. She apparently dies, at the edge of the mattress. Curtain! The audience in Boston is baffled and disappointed by the climax of the musical biography. Not even the lyricist-librettist's husband, Frank, played by Brian d'Arcy James, is happy with the ending. He has the expression of detecting secret flatulence. Or maybe that's the look of someone who just watched his adulterous wife's ex-lover, Michael Swift (Will Chase), play Joe DiMaggio in the show. The musical, as they say, needs work. It's agreed that composer Tom (Christian Borle) and lyricist-librettist Julia (Debra Messing) and director-choreographer Derek (Jack Davenport) will tackle a rewrite of the ending in the coming days. Tom was right when he declared, post-performance, "You can't end a musical with a suicide!" This is the same advice Mike Nichols gave to the writers of Annie when they were testing the show out at Goodspeed Opera House, right?
|photo by Will Hart/NBC|
For Rebecca, there will not be a second performance in Marilyn. Not even Derek's dressing-room kisses can make the emotionally shaky, professionally insecure movie star feel like she's a stage star.