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Brighton Fringe 2011

Alive & Swinging with Marylin Monroe

Alive & Swinging Productions

Genre: Burlesque, Cabaret


Komedia, Brighton, 9pm


Low Down

Nestled away upstairs at Komedia, Brighton is a certain curvy blonde sipping champagne, entertaining in low lights,

avoiding GOD and clearly loving every second.

Marilyn Monroe is finding heaven a bore, no drinking smoking or sex, and worst of all, no swinging music.

She returns to earth for one more night of fun, bringing old showbiz fling Frank Sinatra, and Las Vegas legend Elvis Presley.

Join the three superstars, special guests The Spinettes and Ruby Demure as Jessica Rabbit for plenty of swinging good times as they sing and dance away their final night on Earth, before they reluctantly return to heaven but not before they give one last hilarious and entertaining show!


In the heart of our fair toddling town sits a ‘little’ club called The Komedia. As I walk down the Street the atmosphere is electric the buzz of the Festival is everywhere.  The street outside is filled with countless ‘Hens’ and an eclectic mix of vintage dress and classy ‘L’ plates.

Here, the big bright neon lights of ‘Komedia’ greet those expecting a night of swing.

So, Alive & Swinging Productions fill the Komedia with over 200 hundred people, add in some champagne,  dinner, countless ‘Hens’ celebrating their final few nights of single life (throw in an inflatable penis) and you are sure to be in for a treat.

As I excitedly made my way upstairs I was thinking, how was I going to write a review on a show I knew I would instantly like?

I had been listening to ‘The Rat Pack’ on my walk into town and I was very much in the mood to enjoy the show. As I am huge fan of all the music I expected to hear my only concern as I climbed the stairs was, would it be a night of well advertised poor imitations, disappoint me and sound like a run of the mill (well produced) karaoke night?

Luckily within the first two minuets of Marilyn (Laura Nixon) speaking and singing I knew I was going to feel like a naughty teenager again. All doubt had just blown out the door with the summer wind, she had me at ‘Hello’. The only time my attention would leave the stage was towards the end of the show to turn to a chorus of (by then) drunk women of all ages standing in a line kicking their legs in time to ‘New York, New York’.

I am in Las Vegas, I was living every 1950’s boys dream again, I had Marilyn Monroe standing two feet away from me, shimmying and seducing me, the men in the room (and some women) with her faultless voice and stage presence.

At first, the entrance and opening of the show gave the impression that maybe the show would in fact be more of a stand up with actors/comedians in the guise of Marilyn, Elvis and Frank.

Soon it was clear Laura had truly embodied the ‘Blonde Bombshell’ and very dedicated in what she was doing on stage for us.

Laura as Marilyn effortlessly sang her way through the opening number she gave a brief history of Marylins life, dropping in the odd line about the guest to follow, her life and conspiracy’s surrounding her. She set herself up as the ‘Ditzy Blonde’ who forgot lyrics and got drunk. The best was yet to come. Out came the pink diamondd encrustedukulele and she plays her hilarious (sexual innuendoo filled) ‘ookie pooke’ song.

”It’s like being in Las Vegas again”  a lovely couple I had been seated next to said and they could not have been more right!

First of Marylin’s guests was Frank ‘Ol Blue eyes’ Sinatra brought back to life well by Paul Roberts (formerly of the Stranglers).

He was dressed in the typical suit and clutched a tumbler and microphone. Vocally Paul’s rendition of the karaoke favourites ‘Luck be a Lady’ and ‘Lady is a tramp’ could have not been further from Karaoke rooms. Perfect. (I should mention I am a huge fan of Sinatra and have been lucky enough to have seen the ‘Official’ (Sinatra Estate) Frank Sinatra at the Royal Albert Hall) If it was not for the odd slip out of the accent and maybe a few one liners lost on the audience who were unfamiliar with Franks Sinatra’s humour, Paul’s Frank Sinatra made for a wonderful support to Marilyn.

Next was (at first oddly placed) Jessica Rabbit played by

Again I was fifteen again lost in this cabaret of stunning women and voices. As Ruby Demure sang ‘why don’t you do right’ Class and sex oozed off her bewitching the audience,like when she sang this and Marilyn with her’ookie pooke’. The whole mood, lighting and stmosphere were spot on for the audience to take Ruby Demure’s voice down like a glass of baileys.

Imagine if you will, ‘It’s not just Jessica Rabbit, It’s Ruby Demure’s Jessica Rabbit.” -spoken in the voice of a Marks & Spencer’s advert.

Elvis Presley followed, though not as expected or hoped it seemed.

A slightly disappointed audience full of VERY excitable women let out a murmur of comments on the look os Jim Deveraux as Elvis.

A stereotypical confussed mix of post Hollywood side burns and 1950’s Gold Teddy boy jacket left me a little baffled.  Compared to all the other characters the details here were a little less spot on. Here was a stereotype about to ‘bust out some Karaoke’ murmured one of the drunken Hens behind me.

As he belted out ‘Unchained Melody’ at the end of his three song set. She then said now holding a inflatable ‘well, I take that back. He is brilliant’  Ignoring the costume choice and dark eyed make up- Jim Deveraux’s voice was exceptional. If I could offer a critique after looking on Jim Deverauxs web site, a post Hollywood LAs Vegas jumpsuit might be more fitting to the side burned look.

To impersonate one of the most charismatic performers and obviously handsome music icons of our time Jim Deverauxs has a tough job. However, Jim gives the ladies a show no less, he does it with confidence and if you were to listen to the recording you might not even notice which one was the real ‘King’.

After a huge applause and a somewhat awkward kiss on a drunken bride to be’s cheek Elvis leaves. Three ladies are introduced to the stage next by Marilyn.

They are ‘The Spinettes’.  Miss Emily Shaw, Miss Melanie Cripps and Miss Bonnie Parker. When Marilyn introduces them as ‘…Stars of the west end, each one of them” she is not wrong. All three have worked in the west end as leading ladies and With faultless harmonies and perfectly in timed choreography these girls sure would have entertained the troops if they were in the 1950’s.

Here they are entertaining us now in 2011.

Proving this genre of music is timeless the audience are transported to the days of ‘Memphis Belle’ and vintage pin up girls in their kitch floral dresses and Us army cap. If our own Vera Lynn could hear them she would be proud. Within such a fantastic show they fit in perfectly- If it wasn’t for such a fantastic Marilyn, they would have stolen the show. After speaking to Miss Cripps and Parker it is clear The girls of ‘The Spinettes’ as well as the rest of the cast are passionate about this era of music and they embody it so well,I wish them all the success in the world.

There is no doubt that IF I could, I would have The Spinettes supporting or even featuring in the male harmony group ‘The Overtones’ tour.

I hoped there may have been a little more interaction between the acts which is lost with the entrance and exit of all the performers losing a sense of a truly collective show.

I enjoyed this show not only as a fan of the music, a fan of the characters and a fan of cabaret but I left as a fan of ‘The Spinettes’ and all the other individual performers. This show is as close to perfect as a growing and ever evolving cabaret show can be. As the show grows in (its inevitable) popularity I am sure the production value will no doubt grow making it easier to include more dancers. The one dancer was fantastic, but his obvious talent could be used in more to fill the stage,maybe more development on the story and character interaction would add to the whole performance. Even a little dry ice would round this show off to perfection.

The cast are fantastic, passionate and well polished, lead by the wonderful and captivating Laura Nixon as Marilyn, crooned by the cool Paul Roberts (Who might hopefully invite Dean and Sammy Davis Jnr to join him for the next party on the 17th of June).

Faults are hard to find in such a pitch-perfect show. A must see.

Whether you are a lover of the music, lover of the ‘Golden Era’ of Hollywood, this hilarious cast will pop the cork off your champagne and make you feel like you are truly laughing and swinging with the stars.’