Hollywood starlets – and the man who moved them
By Narelle Wood
Good-Bye Miss Monroe is a short but exquisite look into the little-known life of dance director and choreographer Jack Cole, and the glory days of dance on film.
The play, written and directed by Liam De Burca, is unusual in its construction; set in the days after Monroe’s passing, Jack Cole (played by Matt Young) recounts his experiences working with his ‘Baby Doll’ Marilyn, and includes recollections of and conversations with some of Hollywood’s greatest starlets. The story provides some fascinating insight into the creation of these iconic Hollywood actresses, including Martha Graham, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable and of course Monroe. Cole’s character explains the difficulties of teaching these actresses to move in the ways they eventually became famous for as he laments the loss of Marilyn’s life and explains the development of the sex-bomb character that she became so famous for.
In the précis of the show, De Burca explains that Cole’s work is relatively unknown as most of it is uncredited. As a result it is hard to know whether Young’s portrayal of Cole is accurate, but what he presents is a believable, quintessentially old-fashioned choreographer who believes in the power of dance and the importance of accurately representing dance on film. Anna Burgess plays all of the female characters and her transformation between the different characters is indescribable: from the look, to the dance moves, to the voice, to each of the actress’s idiosyncratic mannerisms, Burgess portrays each of them with astounding accuracy.
The narration’s time-frame does cut backwards and forwards and Cole’s focus on what he’s discussing chops and changes regularly, making it initially a little hard to follow. This may be a reflection of Cole’s disorientation after hearing of Marilyn’s death or an attempt to explore as much of Cole’s littl- known character as possible: either way the format does do the story justice.
While the title might suggest a sole focus on Monroe, Good-Bye Miss Monroe explores so much more this and offers a unique perspective of what it meant to work in film during the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. If you love this era of film, Monroe or dancing in general Good-Bye Miss Monroe is moving, funny and simply brilliant.
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Season: 2nd to 4th May, 8pm, Matinee Saturday and Sunday 3pm
Tickets: Full $30 | Conc $22