Tivoli Village play highlights Marilyn Monroe’s two lives

She was an icon as the glamorous Marilyn. She was a lost little girl as the pig-tailed Norma Jean.

Moses Hazan looks at the many sides of Marilyn Monroe in his show “Marilyn Uncovered, a Musical Tribute to Marilyn Monroe.” It’s slated for 7 p.m. Jan. 9 at Mario Brasner’s World Heritage Collection Gallery in Tivoli Village, 420 S. Rampart Blvd., Suite 150. Admission is $15. Call 702-326-4430 or email moseshazah@gmail.com.

Hazan has been a professional musician since age 14, studying in his hometown of Toronto as well as in New York City and Miami. After a concert tour landed him in Nice, France, a friend suggested he give Las Vegas a try. He went on to be the musical director at Golden Gate for 12 years.

Marilyn Uncovered is his sixth professional musical.

He takes an ethereal approach, with Marilyn looking back on her life, even interacting with herself as she struggles growing up.

Hazan said he wrote it that way to show the “dual personality that Marilyn always had.”

The idea came when he was in Toronto, visiting a friend.

“We used to record in the studio … arrange (songs) as disco tunes for K-Tel Records,” Hazan said. “And his wife is a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, and I was thinking about it and thought, ‘I don’t know anyone who’s written a musical about her.’ I checked, and no one had.”

The piece required research. Hazan and writing partner Frank Fetter downloaded 460 pages of information about the star. They purchased four or five books.

“There was so much (material), you go, ‘What are you going to pick?’” he said. “So you start off with moments like the white dress over the subway grate.”

Casey Weems plays Marilyn. Jenna Bagatti plays Norma Jean. Frank Fetter narrates.

Jenna Bagatti plays the younger Marilyn, before she was a star. When she got the part, Bagatti circled every fact in the script and Googled it to ensure she knew the backstory.

Bagatti said she’d long wanted to work on an original piece about Marilyn and liked “creating something brand new. No other people played my part before, so I could create her how I wanted. …”

Weems had never done a role based on an icon . She prepared by watching YouTube videos and movies showing Marilyn. Weems said Marilyn could draw attention to herself effortlessly.

“Her Norma Jean voice and her Marilyn voice are different, so I think the challenge is not to be an impersonator but to embody her and still make it my own while staying true to her. She was able to turn on and off that public image,” she said.

The play took 2 1/2 years to write. The first draft was 4 1/2 hours .

Hazan said he felt sadness when reading that, at 7 or 8, Norma Jean was left at an orphanage. One of the things that struck him, he said, was how Norma Jean was the last girl to go into the bathtub at the orphanage.

“So, when they poured the water, the first girl would go in to use the bathwater and by the time (Norma Jean) went to get in, it was cold and dirty,” he said, adding that she took two- to three-hour baths once she became famous.

Hazan plans to package the show for television to sell to producers.

Visit tivolivillagelv.com/portfolio/mario-basners.

Contact Jan Hogan at jhogan@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2949.

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