Julia has finally hung up her pancake, erm, pan and hot-footed it to Boston because, despite having attended roughly 3% of rehearsals and written approximately 4 lines of dialogue, the Marilyn musical is somehow complete and ready to be performed, on a stage, to an actual audience. I hope they wrote her name really small in the programme. Science Teacher husband and weird Son are there to support her through this difficult time of facing the guy she cheated on them with. ‘If you feel uncomfortable, just call. We’ll go in with you if you want.’ says weird Son. Are civilians allowed into the pre-preview rehearsals the way they aren’t allowed into Tech? We’re nearing the end and I still have so much to learn!
Derek is quietly confident and tells everyone ‘We’re in pretty good shape for our first preview tonight’ which in Derek world is roughly on par with giving out Tony nominations, so the cast are understandably squeaky. Eileen floats around, dressed in black, sighing ‘break a leg’ to anyone she lays eyes on. The curtain has barely lifted before an excitable Tom is grabbing Julia all ‘so far so good!’ to which she replies, through gritted teeth, ‘it just started’. Because she’s still mad at him for the return of Michael Swift but, also because she’s the realist of the group. The crowd go wild as Rebecca Duvall glides out singing her opening number Let Me Be Your Star, and Ivy throws some mighty eye daggers her way but attempts no on-stage take downs, so that’s a big step up from her last live show, and a lesson to anyone who doesn’t believe in giving drunk actresses second chances. Meanwhile, weird Son is grinning away in the audience, clearly loving it. He’s probably back on the pot.
Karen & Ivy enjoy a little cuddle and a mid-performance ‘You’re really good!’ ‘So are you!’ backstage. See? They could be proper friends. Ivy sleeping with Karen’s on/off boyfriend/fiancé and the 14 weeks of rehearsal related anguish notwithstanding. The show ends with Marilyn killing herself and the audience doing a collective ‘meh’. The cast are forced to start the curtain call to no applause, which is probably the worst thing that can happen in theatre ever, including Ivy getting high and clotheslining her co-stars. Lucky for everyone, Science Teacher & weird Son, ever the professional musical watchers, throw out some ‘whoop!’s and start a Mexican wave, until the rest of the crowd are rallied into a few half-hearted claps.
Eileen goes for a post-show debrief with her Barman Boyfriend and Evil Ellis. Apparently the reason Evil Ellis is still around, despite being unfailingly evil is that he reminds Eileen of herself, back in the day. However, a few pricey piano-bar cocktails later he gets too gobby even for her. She sends him away and Barman Boyfriend follows him outside to ‘make sure he gets a ride home’/throw him under a cab. This lull in proceedings leads Eileen to wander around the bar, chat up the pianist, and promptly pull up a stool. Oh god, Anjelica Huston’s going to sing. Can she sing? Does anyone know?
Back at the theatre, one anti-climax of a choking on a peanut-laced green smoothie scene later, and Rebecca is gone. (The whole no applause thing pretty much destroyed her, which is silly because she’s a movie star, and people don’t generally clap at the cinema.) Famous theatre impresarios Derek, Eileen, Tom & Julia conduct an emergency summit in the lobby of Boston’s busiest hotel while talking about trying to keep a lid on the scandal. Derek later puts the cast on Twitter lockdown, which will totally counteract the couple of hundred people who overheard their secret meeting in the hotel.
With nothing to do but sit around Boston speculating about who will replace Rebecca as Marilyn, and without even being allowed to hashtag it (#teamivy all the way) the cast decide to fill their time by arranging a big old meet up at Sam’s local church. You know, to pray for the show. Literally everyone turns up, which is a great excuse for the respective couplings to all have really awkward conversations on the steps outside. The service starts and look! Gospel Choir! What are the chances of the cast spontaneously breaking into…oh, there we go.
[This review is dedicated to the keen-eyed reader who pointed out how well-endowed Debra Messing is in the nasal department. It’s one of those once you’ve seen it, it can’t be unseen things. For that reason, I’m pleased to say that next week is the finale. Thanks for reading!]