By Dee Jae Cox
One of the things that I love most about theatre is that an actress can walk onto a stage, stretch out on a bench and then rise up as the deceased Jane Russell. Creative transformations are magic in the world of theatre and so it is always exciting to see new works take shape and come to life as in Astrid Ryterband’s one woman comedy, I love you, Marilyn, currently showing at the Step by Step Dance Studio Theatre, in Palm Springs. The play takes place in heaven, where former 40’s/50’s sex symbol Jane Russell has just arrived following her death in 2011. Russell (portrayed by Astridiva) meets up with her old friend Marilyn Monroe (portrayed by a busty puppet, with assistance from Astridiva) and comedy ensues.
The two reminisce about their lives, films and men. Singing duets of some of Monroe’s well known classic tunes, Happy Birthday Mr. President, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend, One For My Baby, One More For the Road, and several other well known songs that will take you back to a bygone era. Astrid Rytherbrand is a well-respected author and performer. Her love of classic Hollywood is apparent. I love you Marilyn appears to be a work in progress, and as a playwright I can attest to the importance of such performances. New works need to be developed and supported and put before an audience, in order to further develop the writing.
The concept of Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe connecting in heaven is funny and entertaining. Getting audience responses to jokes, humor and dialogue is critical in the development of new theatrical pieces and putting it out there is the best method for any playwright to gain a sense of direction for their work. Hats off to Ryterband, who has obviously put a lot of time into her craft and should be applauded for her efforts to bring historic women and creative ideas to the stage. Though this piece appears to still be in development, it is off to a promising beginning.
Music Engineer Larry Waters did a wonderful job of orchestrating the music tracks for this show and Astridiva brings a lot of talent to her vocal performances. This show is not recommend for children due to some adult content, but if you are a supporter of theater and like to see new shows emerge, then go and have a few laughs with Jane and Marilyn.
I love You Marilyn is currently running through March 26th. Performance at 4pm, located at the Step by Step Dance Studio Theatre, 316 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA. Ticket and show information: (760) 778-6192
Dee Jae Cox is a playwright, director and producer. She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director for The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project and the host of the hit radio show, “California Woman 411”.