By Paulanne Simmons
Except for a certain kittenish quality and similar initials, there is little about Marissa Mulder that would make us think of Marilyn Monroe. Neither their voices nor their looks are similar. Yet in Marilyn in Fragments, Mulder’s cabaret show. which has been extended until July 26 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, she manages to convey a great deal about the secret life of this wounded and vulnerable soul.
Directed by Sondra Lee, with Jon Weber at the piano, the hour-long show consists of an extended monologue interrupted by 21 songs that range from Harold Arlen, E. Y. Harburg and Billy Rose’s standard “It’s Only a Paper Moon” to Tom Waits’ “The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) (An Evening with Pete King)”
These musical numbers are presented more to signify Marilyn’s state of mind than her career as a singer. In fact, of the entire repertoire, only “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” is associated with Marilyn. This should not be surprising, considering Marilyn’s most famous song is “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” sung in 1962 for President John F. Kennedy at a celebration of his forty-fifth birthday.
If Marilyn was not primarily a singer, Mulder is. And the irony here is that Marilyn in Fragments highlights Mulder’s acting abilities much more than her vocal talents.
Moulder is a rising star in the cabaret world. And shows like Marilyn in Fragments garner excellent reviews from cabaret critics. But they have limited appeal to mainstream cabaret audiences. Given Mulder’s versatility, one cannot help but wonder what this performer has in mind for her future.
Marilyn in Fragments, next show July 26, 7pm at Laurie Beechman Theatre in the West Bank Cafe, 407 W. 42 Street at 9th Ave. Reservations: www.beechmantheatre.com or 212.352.3101, $20 Cover ($15 for MAC Members); $20 food/drink minimum.