METAMORPHOSIS: THE MUSICAL
Hey there! My name is Richard.
I got an email showing what. my theatre group MUG, (Musical Underground Group), was putting on the following season. I’ve acted and directed in shows there before, so I was interested. The show list, in order they would be onstage, was as follows... (M=Musical, P=Straight play)
M. JEKYLL & HYDE
P. YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU,
(I’ve been in it)
M. SOUTH PACIFIC
P. THE MOUSETRAP (directed it)
M. OLIVER (been in it four times)
M. ANNIE (played Bert Healey)
P. ARSENIC AND OLD LACE
(been in it three times)
M. Unnamed Musical
M. BYE BYE BIRDIE
(acted in it a looooong time ago)
I called my best connection to the organization.
“What’s this ‘Unnamed Musical’ on the email I just got?”
“The original production was called ‘Inside Norma Jean Baker, ‘“ Audrey replied.
“Sounds like a porno title,” I said.
Laughing, she replied, “It seems to have problems, if you know someone who could re-write it into something for the community theatre stage, more power to you.”
“So is it, or isn’t it a musical?” I asked.
“It could be, but most of the music is real dark and almost evil sounding,” Audrey replied.
“So, maybe it’s a project for someone to re-tool?” I asked.
“Are you interested, Rich? You directed some great shows over the last couple of years, YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN, and THE WIZARD OF OZ, and what was that dark drama called, oh, THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE; ... they all come to mind. It’s over a year away, almost seventeen months actually. I could send you what we got? Look it over, and get back to me. You’d be a lifesaver, otherwise, the theatre would probably have to go dark for three weeks, if we can’t fix it.”
“Sure, Audrey; would I get paid for the rewrite, or just for directing it?”
“You already want to do it, don’t you Rich?” Audrey said.
“I’d need a helper, I haven’t written music in a while, anybody you can suggest?”
“Well, I know somebody, who can read and write music very quickly, knows how to play the piano, and is pretty on top of everything else,” she said.
“Except for the being pretty part of that, it almost sounds like you, Audrey,” I said, smiling to myself.
“We worked pretty good before, on that Christmas Musical event two years ago,” Audrey said... “What do you mean, I’m not pretty?”
“Bring everything you got over tomorrow night, OK, kid.”
“Kid, you have the balls to call me kid, I am exactly five years younger than you.”
“Audrey, what’s that great line from THE PRODUCERS, ‘We can do it?’” I said. “Come over at six pm, all right?”
“See you then, Old Man!” she said hanging up.
A little back story is necessary here ... I’m Richard Louis, 37 years old, short brown hair, brown eyes, twenty pounds overweight for no good reason -- I have a treadmill, and a pool.
Her name is Audrey Bradshaw, 32 years old – but looks much younger, brunette, blue eyes I think, and she is pretty, not beauty queen pretty, but when she’s dressed up, she is quite the looker. She works for MUG as well.
She sings in the high alto range, while I’m something of a low tenor. We’ve sung together on stage.
I decided to bone up on Norma Jeane Baker aka Marilyn Monroe.
She was born Norma Jeane Mortenson, June 1st 1926 in Los Angeles, and died on August 5th 1962; only 36 years old. That was too damn bad; she was beautiful. Much more talented as an actress then most people gave her credit for, and she sang, oh so sexually.
Something interesting happened when Norma was seven; she was placed in foster care, which I hadn’t known.
Anyhow, she was placed with a couple called the Bohlenders, Albert and Ida. This might be a place to start the story, with the Bohlenders. So, I’ll need to start a character list.
Norma Jeane; aged 6ish
Gladys Monroe (her birth mother)
(became Gladys Baker)
Martin E. Mortenson (her alleged father)
Charles Stanley Gifford (also, possibly her father)
Grace McKee (who became her guardian
as a ward of the state)
When she was about eleven, she moved in with Grace and Doc Goddard; two more characters. Apparently Doc tried to sexually assault her and this arrangement didn’t work out. Scratch out those two. Maybe just refer to them in passing exposition.
She was moved into a succession of her Aunt’s places, first Olive Brunnings, then Ana Lower. I may need a set of sisters to play Norma Jeane as a youth, somebody out there must have some preteen daughters who have always wanted to act, and so I need an eleven-year-old version of Norma Jean too, two total; so far.
She met a boy while in high school named James “Jim” Doherty, so now I need a 15/16 year old Norma Jeane, and a young man as well; Three Norma’s now!
Apparently, her caretakers moved away and she and Jim, with Gladys forcing the issue, got married, he at 18 ... she was maybe a year younger. Her Aunt Ana arranged the ceremony.
This is good stuff, lots of characters, pathos, seeing a young girl grow up, not being wanted as time passed -- Easily 4 or 5 scenes; including a couple of Musical Numbers. That is where I need Audrey.
I fixed myself some dinner and went to bed.
I have a job with the city that only takes up about four to five hours a day. I got up, fixed myself some breakfast and went to my job.
When I got back, I saw Audrey’s car out front. The front door was wide open. I stuck my head inside.
“Yoo-hoo crazy killer with a hypodermic needle ... I’m home!”
Loud giggles came from my work area as Audrey and I gave each other a hug.
“I see you already started some research, is it going to be young Norma Jeane in the first act and the girl with the voice and the body in the second?”
“Actually Audrey, I better call and cancel the swat team first. I suppose you got in by finding my fake rock with the key inside?”
“No silly, I picked the lock. It’s easier than you think. Sorry, I didn’t think you’d mind. So, have you had any ideas, musically?”
“Straight for the jugular, that’s my Audrey,” I said.
Both of her eyebrows went up, “Your Audrey?”
“It’s just an expression, Miss Bradshaw!” I said.
“Anyway,” she said, getting in front of my electric piano. “First song sets the tone. What’s your idea?”
“Who says I have an idea?” I said.
“You’ve got a very young girl, a little heartbroken from being pushed and pulled from place to place. I see a ‘Life sucks as a child’ type song in the middle of all that. Don’t you?” I sat down next to her as she started to plunk out a flowery beginning to a song.
“Change it to the key of ‘g’ please, that stuff the girls in ANNIE sing is written way too high. Hmmm, sounds better, keep it all in the same octave, if you can, please?”
I heard her humming, as she sang, “I need a daddy, is it you?”
“Holy shit, Audrey, that’s an amazing lyric! Norma could be ... sitting on a porch somewhere, maybe you couldn’t even tell where. It hardly matters. We need a verse?”
We worked together before, and one of us was always ending each other’s sentences. So, we started, alternating each line. I’m first...
Rich “Someone once told me,
that dads are important, but...”
Audrey “Nobody said –
just how important...”
Rich “That everyone else –
has a daddy, isn’t it true?”
Audrey “I need a daddy, a nice to me
daddy, a really astonishing...”
Rich “Fabulous daddy; tell me please,
I need a daddy, isn’t it you?”
I grabbed her and gave her a great big kiss ... she pulled away.
“What the hell was that for?” she said more upset than I thought she would be.
“I’m sorry, I got excited! We have a third of our opening number, ‘Isn’t It You?’ We need two more verses and some scene work going up to that.”
“What do you mean, why?” I asked.
“We’ve got a great song -- why spoil it by trying to ramp up to it with some potentially cheesy dialogue, and warn me next time you plan to attack me, I’ll have my hypodermic needle ready.”
I said, “‘I’m sorry’ Audrey, it won’t happen again.”
“Wait ... Repeat that again, jerk.”
“What you said after I said, I was going to use my needle in you,” she said with attitude.
“I’m sorry, it won’t happen again, so?”
“Doesn’t Norma Jeane and then Marilyn make some of the same mistakes over and over again?” Audrey said, getting all worked up.
“Yeah, and we could have a recurring musical theme, that at some point in the show is turned into the song, ‘It Won’t Happen Again.’ I knew you’d be a great big help on this project,” I said.
Audrey replied, “We could write two sets of lyrics for ‘It Won’t Happen Again, ‘ one for adolescent Norma...”
“For somewhere in Act One and another bolder set of lyrics for Marilyn to sing in Act Two,” I said, again ending her starting thought.
I looked over at her, realizing for a split second, that I may have feelings for her. She must hate me, the way she just pushed me off. I did attack her out of nowhere.
Her lips felt nice.
I haven’t had a girlfriend in over five years. My last one, Suzanne Powell, left town. I never told her how I really felt; worried she may reject me. We dated for two years and it got real serious, but I couldn’t seem to discuss marriage for some reason.
Audrey and I’ve also kidded around each other. We had done some light flirting over the last couple of years, but my heart just wasn’t in it. She always seemed ... distracted.
“So, we don’t ramp up to the song we just wrote. We’ll have a couple of scenes prior; then that song will start a scene, or maybe even be on it’s own?” I questioned.
“Which of the four Norma’s so far will sing it, Rich?”
“That might have to depend on the quality of the actresses we get at auditions,” I said.
“Bull, why not have all of the girls playing Norma Jean sing it?” Audrey argued.
“Because -- that’s an excellent idea, can you please put the melody that we just created down on sheet music, Audrey; I’ll be right back.”
I left to change from my work shirt and long pants into shorts and a MUG T-shirt I had made a while back, and walked back out to sit next to her at the piano.
“Wow, the whole ‘look’ has improved, there may be hope for you after all, thunder thighs,” Audrey said.
“You making fun of my legs, you’re making fun of MY legs? When you have those chicken legs of yours, with absolutely no meat on them at all. There’s nothing to chew on, at all.”
“Excuse me, ‘chew on’ buster?” she stood up and showed me her legs, at least a little.
“Finally, the loud voice of a woman in this place -- that’s not my mother! Sit down, you’re rocking the boat,” I laughed – she joined.