Community's demands bring 'Marilyn: Forever Blonde' back to Walla Walla

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerMarch 15, 2013 

  • Marilyn: Forever Blonde

    When: 7:30 p.m. March 20-23, 27-30 with a 3 p.m. matinee March 24.

    Where: Gesa Power House Theatre, Walla Walla.

    Cost: $12 to $50.

    Tickets: www.phtww.com or call 509-529-6500.

The Gesa Power House Theatre will once again bring the critically acclaimed one-woman show, Marilyn: Forever Blonde, to Walla Walla for a limited engagement.

Greg Thompson, creator of the show, told the Herald the theater sought him out earlier this year requesting the show return because of demands made to the theater by the community.

Thompson's wife, Sunny, portrays a realistic Marilyn Monroe in the show, mastering the Hollywood icon's voice, mannerisms and looks.

"Marilyn: Forever Blonde was so popular with audiences in Eastern Washington when it was here in 2011 that it sold out 17 performances," said Erica Walter, director of marketing at the Power House Theatre.

The last time Marilyn: Forever Blonde was performed at the Power House in 2011, the theater was in the midst of refurbishing, leaving actors with plenty of challenges backstage.

"I'm anxious to see the progress they've made at the theater since we were last there," Sunny Thompson said. "I understand I'll have a real dressing room and restroom this time, which will be wonderful."

Greg Thompson wrote the show more than two decades ago, but didn't find the right woman to play the lead role until Sunny auditioned for him. But she declined to play the part at first because she didn't think she could ever compare to the legendary Monroe.

But her husband eventually convinced her to tackle the role, and it's been a hit with audiences around world ever since. The show recently finished a sold-out gig in Palm Desert, Calif., where a portion of the proceeds from the show benefited the town's symphony.

The show takes the audience on a nostalgic visit back in time to a photo shoot just before Monroe's untimely death in 1962. There are two acts and 17 songs in the show.

Greg Thompson wrote the show based on actual events and conversations Monroe is credited with having during her life. His wife developed a soulful connection to the sex symbol after doing extensive research into her life.

"There was a softness about Marilyn that makes you think she would have been a good friend, someone fun to be with, despite all the suffering that happened in her life," Sunny said. "That has been my whole premise since taking on this role: to give the audience a glimpse into that part of Marilyn's life as well as the glamorous side."

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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