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 was as follows
JEKYLL & HYDE, the Musical
YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU, (I've been in it)
THE MOUSETRAP (directed it)
OLIVER (been in it four times)
ANNIE (played Bert Healey)
ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (been in it three times)
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, 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 didn't know. 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..."
R "That everyone else -- has a daddy, isn't it true?"
A "I need a daddy, a nice to me daddy, a really astonishing..."
R "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?"
"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."
"Repeat that again, jerk."
"What you said after I said, I was going to pull my needle in you."
"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.
"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 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 to shorts and a T-shirt, 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.
She did, and started to play the song of the same name from GUYS AND DOLLS. As she did, I thought a song with that rhythm might work out somewhere in the show. I gave her that idea, and she was quiet for a while, writing the sheet music we needed for our first song together in over two years.
I moved to my laptop, where I tapped out a short scene, between Gladys, Albert and Ida Bohlender that explained how Norma Jean ended up with them. This reduces the characters needed by at least two; neither alleged father needs to exist. I had Audrey come over to look at it, and she thought it was pretty good. A good audition scene for just about any of the adults in the show, that's important!
One more song for when she's being played by someone other than our 'Marilyn' actress.
Audrey touched my shoulder as she got up from reading my scene; we exchanged smiles as she sat back down to the electric piano.
I decided to switch it up and write some lyrics to 'It Won't Happen Again.'
With my hands hovering over my Dell keyboard, I stopped to think. Over and over, I ran the expression through my brain, 'it won't happen again."
Then, it started pouring out of me,
"This day has happened once before, a day I give free rein,
The love I've had for each of them, I just cannot explain.
It seems to be that I must have some providence in mind,
Because I can't go through this life with blinders on, defined"
"As the kind of girl that they all want, a piece for everyone.
I need a guy, that special guy, and not just anyone."
"It won't happen again,
These men are all the same
It won't happen again
I guess I am to blame"
"The day I hope will never come I have to end it all
They'll all ask, 'what happened to her, ' they won't care how I fall"
"It won't happen again,
I'll pick a great stage-name
It won't happen again,
They'll all remember - my – fame!"
I just looked at this for a while, wondering how I captured this wonderful sounding set of lyrics. Now, all I need is for Audrey to put the best melody she's ever created to it. That would be no small feat, but she's done some marvelous melodies before.
I finally got the courage to print this and I handed it to her.
She looked at it, then at me, and back at it. I saw a tear.
She placed it on the music stand of the electric piano, and the most gorgeous melody came out, as she sang it as she performed.
I got behind her and we did the chorus together, both times. She added a flourish to the end, got up and gave me the best kiss of my entire life.
"What the hell was that?" I said.
"I'm sorry, I got excited! That's a fucking great song, Richard. Far and away the best song you've ever written, bar none," she said.
"We still need at least one fast paced number for the first act, Audrey – Do you have any ideas for that?" I asked, still shaking her kiss off, not sure how deeply it affected me. No time for any of that. Back to work.
"Name me a song the speed you want, Lover!" she looked over at me and smiled.
"Hmmmm, something like that Dean Martin classic, 'Ain't That A Kick In The Head, ' maybe 130 to 150 beats per minute."
"Who'll be singing this, exactly Rich?"
"I see the oldest Norma Jeane, maybe 19 to 21, just before she becomes Marilyn, starting this song. It ends with a blackout, the same young lady, comes out at the beginning of the second act, now she's Marilyn, and finish's the song she started as Norma. Ugh, that makes for five Norma Jeane's."
"You're crying Richard," Audrey noticed.
"So will she ... Audrey. This song needs a build, so you know it's the end of the first act, and the end of Norma Jeane."
I asked, "Audrey, how does this compare with the music it came with?"
"The difference is night and day, Rich ... it was a dud, we may have a Hit, a real big hit on our hands, here," Audrey said.
That whole time, between '42 until '47 will be exposited in the first scene of the Second Act. I sent Audrey home, I need to think about this show ... and my growing feelings for her.
The next day, around one pm, a knock was heard at my front door. I yelled, "Come in Audrey, its unlocked."
She came in and waved hi, "I could have been a killer or a rapist, Rich!"
"A killer I'd never remember, a rapist I'd never forget," I said to her giggle.
"You sure always know how to lighten the mood, Rich."
"Get in the nude, what was that?" I said.
"First, we need to set the record straight, I've had some ... feelings for you over the last couple of years, and have been deathly afraid to act on them. What's that saying about friends and lovers? Anyway, we have too much to do, to do anything except write scenes and songs, OK with you?" she said.
"Sure, and for the record, I always thought ... you had a big butt, I'm ... so ... glad that's finally out in the open; I've been so ashamed!" I said, a little bit too mockingly.
"Does this mean, we can flirt again, Audrey? I've really missed flirting with you. Depending on your reaction, I may go out somewhere to try to get a couple of one-night stands. Get back my Mojo."
"Your Mojo has a leak in it, Rich ... the same with your charisma. Can we please get back to it, the play -- the musical?"
"OK," I sat down. "We've got a third of 'I Need A Daddy, ' 'Isn't It You?' – 'It Won't Happen Again, ' the first Act version and a 130 bpm song that needs words and music. I have outlines for six scenes in the first act, including the scene that immediately follows 'Isn't It You?'"
"Is anybody besides Norma/Marilyn going to sing a song in this show, Rich?" Audrey asked.
"Is that your impertinent way of telling me you have an idea for someone, other than Marilyn, to sing a song?"
"Yes -- you know Rich, you're getting smarter as we go, and maybe cuter, too?" she said.
"Stop that ... so who's singing this song, Audrey?"
"Take a guess?" she said.
"Oh, come on, take a guess?"
"Is it one or all of her foster parents?" I asked.
"How about Jim Doherty, the first guy she marries?" I speculated.
"No -- but that's a really good idea ... maybe a better one than the one I had," she said, less confident then before.
"No! If you've got a good idea then sell me on it. That's how a lot of our 'new Christmas music' was developed, by taking a chance. We would've never written, 'A Love For Our Father, ' or 'Christmas Is In Your Heart, ' both of those beautiful ballads that you wrote your wonderful melodies for. I'm practically crying and all I'm doing is thinking about them; and you," I said trailing away.
"What was that, Rich?"
"Well, I sometimes wallow in self pity; and all I have to do is think of any of the songs we've written together, and I feel better."
"Boy, is that the pickup line of the new age?" she asked.
"I don't know ... is it working?" I flirted.
Audrey said, "Maybe, so my idea was to have one of her early singing teachers, say..."
"I was thinking of ending this show with her premiere in ALL ABOUT EVE, her breakthrough movie, in 1950," I interrupted.
Audrey got up and walked over to me. She kicked off her shoes, which made her just shorter than me. She grabbed my face and gave me a wonderful, but short kiss ... directly on the lips. She put her shoes back on, and walked back over to in front of the piano.
"Do you want to hear this new song melody, I wrote after leaving here last night? I couldn't get this stupid melody out of my head to fall asleep. Not until I put it on paper, could I fall asleep," she said.
She started playing this beautiful melody, reminiscent of Phantom, but with more of a steady, building beat. I listened by sitting down next to her, giving her a peck on the cheek saying, "I'm sorry, but I may be falling in love with you, my heart can't help it!"
"I know!" she said, still playing her wonderfully euphonious melody. "I'm a catch."