Las Vegas producer returns with Marilyn Monroe documentary

Updated August 22, 2018 - 5:08 pm

When we last encountered Greg Thompson, he was riding high with the adult revue “Bareback” at Harrah’s. That was in 2006, when Thompson was known for producing a series of successful topless shows, among them “Skintight,” “Erocktika” and “Showgirls,” at the Rio.

But within two years of “Bareback’s” opening, the Vegas show-biz economy fizzled and Thompson closed out and sold off his Las Vegas empire. A man who had multiple shows running simultaneously in Las Vegas had simply cut a new path elsewhere, with the touring play “”Marilyn Forever Blonde: The Marilyn Monroe Story In Her Own Words and Music.”

The production toured for a decade, starring Thompson’s entertainer wife, Sunny. The project has evolved to the documentary, “Becoming Marilyn Monroe.” The film brings the Thompsons back to Las Vegas for the Hollywood Dreamz International Film Festival at Brenden Theaters at the Palms. “Becoming Marilyn Monroe” screens 7 p.m. Thursday.

Produced by the Thompsons’ Lipstick Productions, “Becoming Marilyn Monroe” is a chronicle of Monroe’s career and how she relates to the Thompsons’ own love story. Greg Thompson was captured by Monroe’s image in 1954, as a 10-year-old kid, and fell in love with her then.

As a grown-up, he was swept away by Sunny, who certainly resembles Monroe and who had starred in “Showgirls” at the Rio when Thompson’s company was producing hits in Vegas.

To rake through some confusion, neither the Thompsons’ play nor the film are licensed by the Monroe estate. Prospect House Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Tegan Summer, with his on-hiatus “Marilyn — The New Musical,” holds those rights. But Thompson has certainly tracked the struggles of “Marilyn” to find its footing on the Strip (the show is announced to be back onstage at Paris Theater in November).

“It’s interesting to explore why nearly every film, television show and stage play about Marilyn Monroe fails, and why our one-woman play has had such success,” Thompson says. “We’ve received glowing reviews from critics and from Marilyn fans around the world.”

For Thompson, whose company also produces the family friendly holiday show “Snowflake Lane,” the one-woman play is both rewarding and cost effective. As he jokes, “With Sunny playing the part, this meant extremely low overhead and we only needed one room on the road!”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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