The show, titled Norma Jeane: The Musical, is currently being planned as a one-off invite only event in September, however if reactions are favourable a West End run is no doubt the desired goal. It follows hot on the heels of American TV series Smash, recently cancelled after its second season due to falling ratings. The TV show followed the creation and casting of Broadway musical Bombshell, based on Marilyn's life. The first season focused on the rivalry between Karen Cartwright played by American Idol alumni Katherine McPhee and Ivy Lynn played by Broadway star Megan Hilty and their determination to secure the coveted role.
Norma Jeane: The musical is written by Belevedere Pashun, and the writing team behind the songs includes ex-Bucks Fizz singer Jay Aston. Pashun explained her decision to cast Katona in the lead role: "Marilyn's life was one of extremes – poverty, abandonment, abuse followed by a flowering beauty which brought attention, fame, wealth and power, and then the well-documented tragic fall. I needed an actor of huge talent, personality and experience – Kerry was at the top of my list." She added "This show will change the shape of people's perceptions of Marilyn Monroe, and we expect to announce a new star of drama on stage and screen with Kerry's performance."
Katona had recently announced plans to move into acting and she says on the show's website: "A successful career in drama has always been a main goal of mine and this role is a challenge but one I'm going to grab with both hands." The decision to cast Katona however has seen more than it's fair share of raised eyebrows. Our Twitter followers weighed in on the debate:
@WestEndFan1 voiced what a lot of people seemed to think, that there were other more suitable candidates from the musical theatre field. "The role should have gone to MT actress not some has been "singer". I won't be wasting money on a ticket whilst she's on"
@EricaAnnDeakin agreed "I've been a professional actress in the business for 15yrs, and this situation is getting worse, I have direct experience...it's not personal against Kerry, I'm sure she's a doll. But friends & colleagues of mine suffer with this celeb culture"
@RobertArtlett "just upsetting it went to what society call a celeb rather then the talented girls I train with every day!!!!!"
@elliedevonshire "she's been chosen for one of the most iconic roles in history and there are dozens of better girls for the part!!...did the casting director not see Megan Hilty as her on Smash?! That should have been the inspiration"
@isaacchalk22 summed things up as: "Marilyn Monroe is a female icon, Kerry Katona is a frozen food icon"
However there was a lone voice willing to give Kerry a chance, deciding it was only fair to judge her performance...on her performance.
@calfoz "One would assume that @KerryKatona7 auditioned?Maybe she was best on the day?Perhaps we shud see hr perform b4 we criticise" adding: "Makes me sick when people judge based on something they heard or read! #lookforyourself"
We will remain neutral in the discussion, but will be monitoring the outcome of the one-off show with bated breath. We wish Kerry the best of luck...hopefully she will be able to prove the naysayers wrong.
Meanwhile...a great show that tracks the ups and downs of casting a musical, A Chorus Line, is nearing the end of it's run. You can book A Chorus Line tickets here!
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