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Goodbye Norma Jeane - Above the Stag Theatre

Tim English

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

WRITTEN by Liam Burke and directed by Robert McWhir, Goodbye Norma Jeane, the untold tale from the Golden Age of Hollywood, receives its UK premiere at Above the Stag Theatre – from March 16 to April 7, 2019.

It’s the early morning hours of August 5, 1962 and, with a gay pool party playing out in his backyard, Hollywood choreographer Jack Cole wakes to devastating news – the death of Marilyn Monroe.

Norma Jeane’s suicide signalled the death of glamorous Hollywood’s innocence and the fizzling out of Cole’s own prestige. We join him – the now-unknown architect behind many of Golden Age Hollywood’s most iconic leading ladies and largely uncredited father of theatrical jazz dance – on this tragic morning.

Visited by legends of the hour – Lana Turner, Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth – and his former assistant Gwen Verdon, rather than grieve, Cole obsesses over memories of how hard Norma Jeane was to work with. As audiences watch him slowly accept reality and graciously say farewell, they are treated to an intimate and untold true story, and an insightful glimpse behind the glitz of showbiz, into the life of a figure who made it tick.

A two-hander, the play features Tim English as Cole, and a myriad of female demigoddesses including Lana Turner, Norma Jeane, Martha Graham, Ann Miller, Gwen Verdon, Jane Russell, Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth all convincingly embodied by a single actress, Rachel Stanley.

Tim English was most recently the Resident Director of Disney’s Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre (2015-2017). Prior to that, he spent several years in the same role for The Lion King UK and International Tour (2012-2015).

He has been a performer on stage for over thirty years, appearing in Priscilla – Queen of the Desert, Mamma Mia!, Oliver!, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, My Fair Lady, Always, Me and My Girl, Elvis the Musical, West End Gold and Showstoppers.

On television he appeared in three series of Red Dwarf, Drop the Dead Donkey and EastEnders. He has voiced and presented several TV commercials and appears in the award-winning independent film Blood Means Nothing, directed by Mark Oxtoby.

English has appeared in, directed or produced corporate events throughout the world and is currently on the faculty at ArtsEd (Arts Educational Schools London).

Rachel Stanley

Rachel Stanley’s recent theatre credits include Ester Prokrifki in An Officer and a Gentleman (UK Tour); Mum in Gangsta Granny Tour (Garrick Theatre); Mrs Fezziwig in SCROOGE (Leicester Curve); Mrs Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie (Kilworth House); Elle’s Mum in Legally Blonde (Leicester Curve); Female Vocalist in Judy Garland SongBook (UK Tour); and Betty Haynes in White Christmas (Dominion Theatre and seasons in Edinburgh, Manchester, Plymouth and Southampton). She has also appeared in the pantomimes Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, Peter Pan and Cinderella The Musical.

Stanley’s film credits include Les Miserables, De-Lovely, Little Bird by Annie Lennox (Music Video) and Galavant.

Featuring Cole’s original choreography from as early as his 1938 club act (at New York’s Rainbow Room), famous routines such as Gwen Verdon’s Egyptian Dance from the 1951 movie David and Bathsheba and thrilling, never-seen choreography, Goodbye Norma Jeane is an extensively researched and thoughtful ode to one of dance’s under-acknowledged heroes.

Its first run, under original name Good-bye Miss Monroe, was nominated for a Matilda Award in 2014 which was followed by a sold-out season in Melbourne, Australia.

Tickets: £22.50. Previews (March 16 and 17) priced between £12 – £16. To book, visit www.abovethestag.com/.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7:15pm, Sunday at 5pm. No performance on Tuesday, March 19.