Actress Sarah Applewood said that the chance to play one of her heroines, Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe, persuaded her not to quit acting.
Sarah co-stars in Some Like It Hotter, a comedy fantasy by Sheffield-based writer Richard Hurford. Marilyn, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are in heaven, having to replay their roles in the classic film comedy Some Like It Hot for new arrivals who had a big attachment to the movie.
She said: “We’re the B picture, the warm-up to the afterlife.”
The show is based on the famous Billy Wilder comedy, where two musicians played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon accidentally fall foul of the mafia when they witness the St Valentine’s Day massacre.
Terrified, they decide to flee town but this is the Great Depression and the only orchestra leaving on tour is women only. They decide they have to dress in drag for a summer season in Miami.
Tony Curtis falls for the band’s singer, Marilyn’s character Sugar, and dresses up as a playboy to woo her. Meanwhile, Jack Lemmon has to contend with the amorous attentions of a rich older suitor. Then the mafia show up for a get-together... Will they spot the boys?
In the play, Charlie, one of the film’s fans who knew Marilyn when they were alive, turns up and events take an interesting twist.
Sarah is touring with the show, which comes to Chesterfield next week.
She said: “It’s a bit of a privilege to play Marilyn. Everybody knows her. She’s everywhere still, you see her face on bags and things.
“I enjoy playing her because everybody loves her. You hear a big ‘ooh’ in the auditorium when she comes on stage.”
Sarah admits to being a big fan of Marilyn and says she has pictures of herself from university with a ‘halo’ of three Marilyn images that were on the wall of her room around her head.
She said it is tough to leave her three children behind with her husband when she goes on tour and added: “I was going to give up acting. Then this came up and my friend said, ‘This role, you’ve got to play it, it’s made for you.’ The rest is history!”
Sarah prepared for the role by watching Marilyn on YouTube to study how she moved and spoke and read up a lot about her. She says most people underestimate the star and how talented she was.
“Most people who play her make the mistake of thinking ‘sexy blonde’. She is not all about that. The reason why she’s appealing is that she’s really funny and really free.
“She’s absolutely free to play, so she plays. I try to shut off my inhibitions and wiggle about as much as I can.”
Sarah was in the original production of the show at the Watermill Theatre in Berkshire and is now taking part in her second national tour.
Richard Hurford’s script uses the characters and scenarios of the film but not the exact lines the stars said. Sarah said: “He’s done a really good job of picking up the rhythms of the film.”
She admits that she would have liked to say: “I’m tired of getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop” as Marilyn famously does in the film.
The show does feature all the songs from the film, which the cast have learned to play live on stage. Sarah says she can “do what’s required” on the ukulele to perform Running Wild and I Wanna Be Loved By You.
She said: “Because it’s fast paced it’s a good night out. It’s a comedy with a real message that will resonate with people.
“It’s a lot of fun to do, because the audience enjoy it.”
Some Like It Hotter is at the Pomegranate Theatre next Thursday (June 6). Box office: 01246 345222 or go to www.chesterfieldvenues.co.uk.
Sarah’s co-stars, Daniel Lloyd and Paul Matania, have to put on full drag for their roles to play Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in the film.
Sarah is full of admiration for them, although she knows they are having a great time doing it.
She said: “They’re quite big guys, both 6ft tall. They wear all the make-up and shave their legs.
“They have bras and wigs on and go as far as they can, bless them!”