Yes, the familiar touchstones are all there, if not always felicitously executed. A wheezy floor fan lifts Marilyn's "Seven Year Itch" skirt barely up to her knees, rather than well above them, as it should. The wig chosen for "Happy Birthday, Mr. President," which looks like two hairpieces one top of each other, makes M.M. look more like Carol Channing, and it's not meant as a lead-in to "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." Marilyn talking to large, suspended black-and-white headshots of her idols such as Orson Wells, Marlene Dietrich, Billy Wilder, George Sanders and Kim Novak, is only partly successful. However, Davis Zen Mansley's voice-overs of the males are effective. Mercifully, there are no nutty conspiracy theories about the Kennedys having Marilyn killed; she takes full blame here for her accidental death.
Louisa Bradshaw, who bears only a passing resemblance to the Marilyn, gives a game performance, and sings as well as Marilyn ever did. She is also convincing in briefly playing Gladys Baker, Norma Jean's mother, and Jane Russell, Marilyn's co-star in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and soul mate. But blame must be apportioned among the solo performer, Stepp and director Lissa Moira (who also bills herself in the program as "dramaturge") for the all-out howlers in the script and delivery. Darryl Zanuck was one of the few Hollywood moguls who wasn't Jewish, so he should not be lumped in with Marilyn's set piece on her preference for Jewish boys. (Zanuck was also M.M.'s boss at the time.) The poet Dame Edith Sitwell was not a great English actress; I think they mean Dame Edith Evans, a rough contemporary of Sitwell's. Mistakes like these are unforgivable, as are mispronunciations of Elia Kazan's first name (it's Eelia, not Ellya) and of the word "implicit" (it's "implisit," not "impikit").
Presented by and at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., NYC. Oct. 9-23; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (No performance, Wed., Oct. 12) (212) 868-4444 or www.smartix.com.