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Marilyn Monroe Obsession Leads to Writer's One-Woman Show in Lakeview

By Serena Dai | August 29, 2013 7:27am
 Amber Hargroder, 25, will be playing Marilyn Monroe in a one-woman show called "Monroe."
'Monroe' at Pub House Theatre
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LAKEVIEW — Forget the iconic flipping white dress of "The Seven Year Itch." Forget the Marilyn Monroe with parted lips, lying naked on a bed but for a white sheet.

Monroe was more than what modern day idolizations of her suggest, said local writer Amber Hargroder, and Hargroder aims to shed fresh light on the actress with a new one-woman show, "Monroe."

"Everyone falls in the trap that she was this sex symbol," Hargroder said. "That's not what this is about. They forget that she's a person."

Hargroder, 25, who is sporting a bleach blonde bob for the role, will be playing Monroe as she imagined the actress's last hour and fifteen minutes of life — a result of nearly two years of research on Monroe's life and work, including diaries, poetry, films and books.

The show debuts on Sept. 13 at The Public House Theatre, 3914 N. Clark St.

Hargroder first decided to look into Monroe after watching "My Week With Marilyn." Her younger sister had always had a life-size poster of Monroe plastered on her wall, and Hargroder wanted to prove that Monroe should not be the icon that she is. 

But the Louisiana native ended up falling in love with Monroe and Norma Jeane Mortenson, Monroe's name before fame. Hargroder found that Monroe is someone "who should be respected," not dismissed as another "dumb blonde or a sex freak with boobs," she said.

Monroe fought to be a true artist. She was "so desperate" to be loved by her husbands, who either couldn't handle her fame or tried to use it, Hargroder said. She feared being used by Hollywood and men, but failed in both aspects.

Glamorized moments like the flipping skirt from "The Seven Year Itch" actually represent some of Monroe's "worst moments," Hargroder said. Joe DiMaggio, Monroe's second husband, watched as Monroe filmed the scene over and over and became increasingly jealous.

They separated shortly after. 

"People are like, 'Oh she must be a whore,'" Hargroder said. "I'm defending her honor."

Hargroder's work is one of many recent modern renditions of Marilyn Monroe, from the canceled TV show "Smash" to talks of an upcoming film adaption of Joyce Carol Oates's "Blonde." 

Hargroder understands the irony of her portrayal of Marilyn too, considering the actress's fear of being used. She just hopes her rendition changes at least one person's perspective on Monroe.

"This isn't about me," she said. "You can't escape this woman. You tell people she wrote poetry, and they say 'really?' She wanted to be considered an artist. I feel she's been robbed of that. She's just an icon."

"Monroe" debuts at The Pub House Theatre, 3914 N. Clark St., on Sept. 13. It will every Friday at 9:30 p.m. until Oct. 4. Tickets cost $15.