The concept for this show comes from the playwright, Sandro Monetti’s discovery that Marilyn Monroe had been listening to a stack of Frank Sinatra albums on the night she died. Curious to learn more about Monroe’s choice, he undertook a yearlong investigation into the relationship between the two legendary icons. After speaking to several fascinating sources, who worked closely with the pair, Monetti wrote the untold story of a very special relationship between Monroe and Sinatra.
Sinatra (played by Jeff Bratz) and Monroe (Erin Gavin) have a relationship that fluctuates between romantic and platonic throughout the show. It seems that Sinatra often looked out for Monroe in her most vulnerable moments thereby shedding new light on both of these stars. Their story is told interspersed with songs that both are most recognised for – with the exception of ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ that came across as quite a surprise but apparently it is in his repertoire.
Neither cast member are likely to make it as impersonators of their respective characters but that isn’t to say they don’t give it a decent try. Monroe and Sinatra are massive shoes to fill but Gavin and Bratz struggle to fill those shoes. Bratz provides some fantastic vocals and Gavin perfectly captures the way Monroe mocks her on screen dumb blonde image, but it’s hard to really picture them as their characters and it at time feels a bit forced. But these are larger than life icons who have had so much media drafted around them, it’s hard to know what truly is real.
If you’re the type of person who heads toward the biography aisle in any bookshop then you will probably enjoy the way the story is narrated directly to the audience. The play is around an hour long but if this is a brand new story about two of the most famous post war celebrities, it would be improved by a more detailed account of events and context. Marilyn and Sinatra is only a brief overview of their story which is a shame because it is a fascinating. Instead of getting satisfying answers from the play I spent my whole journey home on Wikipedia to fill in the gaps.
Despite all of this they play was quite enjoyable. The characters don’t need too much development as they are still as renowned today as they were 70 years ago which allows more focus on the story. By only having Monroe and Sinatra on stage it allows the story to solely focus on their relationship, although other names are dropped throughout.
Overall this is a charming play which would have benefitted from more depth to the story. Nevertheless it’s a delightful insight to a lesser known side to Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn & Sinatra plays the Jermyn Street Theatre until 21 August 2016. For more information and tickets, see the Jermyn Street Theatre website.