EdFringe 2019 Review: I Am Not Marilyn

I Am Not Marilyn
Rating: ★★★
Venue: theSpace Triplex

Viviana Zarbo’s love letter to Marilyn Monroe, I Am Not Marilyn sees the jazz singer pay homage to the definitive blonde bombshell. From the title, it is clear that Zarbo is not going to be posing as a Monroe tribute act – instead opting for her own smooth interpretations of songs famously interpreted by Marilyn.

Accompanied by saxophonist Stephanie Legg and keyboardist Chris Neill , Zarbo provides solid interpretations of Monroe’s most iconic tracks like My Heart Belongs to Daddy, Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, and River No Return. Zarbo’s strength is in these performances instead letting her own engaging jazz vocals shine instead of attempting a hushed Marilyn whisper. Accompaniment from Legg and Neill ensures that proceedings run slickly in the punchy fifty-minute show.

Zarbo’s anecdotes and musings between songs reveal her personal connection to Monroe’s work from encountering a painting of the actress in her Uncle’s house to her own research into Monroe’s biography. Here she draws attention to the skilled craftsmanship of songwriters like Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, whilst recounting Marilyn’s relationship with Ella Fitzgerald and rumours of Marilyn helping her secure a spot at the segregated Mocambo club.

Zarbo does an impressive job at showcasing Monroe’s often underrated work as a musician and her impressive interpretations shine at highlighting just how talented composers like Porter and Berlin were. I Am Not Marilyn is an entertaining re-evaluation on Monroe’s musical career, Zarbo is engaging vocalist and produces a slick, sophisticated musical experience.

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