New show ‘Goodbye Miss Monroe’ by Liam De Burca lifts the curtain on the golden age of Hollywood by taking a look at choreographer Jack Cole’s story.
Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable are some of the most iconic stars ever to grace the silver screen, but who was the man responsible for cementing their status as Hollywood royalty?
That man was Jack Cole, and despite being a pioneer of dance on film his story has remained mostly untold, until now.
Brisbane performer Liam De Burca’s career has taken him all over the globe, from New York to London and LA, but he has now returned to his home town to tell Cole’s story in the world premiere of Goodbye Miss Monroe.
“It was a three and a half year process to bring the idea together, I had to find the right way to tell this story because he was quite a shy man so being up on the stage and telling his own story just didn’t ring true for me. It took a lot of reading and workshops to get it right,” De Burca says of the play he penned and directed. “I was living in Los Angeles when I came up with the idea, working for Timeline Films.
“I had grown up in Brisbane learning the Jack Cole style of dancing and the stories my teacher had told me always stayed in my mind. Timeline had all this footage of Jack that had landed on the cutting room floor in Hollywood, so nobody knew it existed. He worked in a time when choreographers were mostly uncredited, not many people knew he had created all these iconic dance sequences.”
Goodbye Miss Monroe stars Matt Young as Jack Cole and Anna Burgess as Marilyn, Rita Hayworth, Mitzi Gaynor and many more. “The show starts when Cole wakes up from a big night and his house is a mess. He remembers that he invited people over but realises he never got back to them,” De Burca explains. “The story plays out in telephone conversations and flashbacks from there.”
During the show Cole recounts his greatest success stories and all the obstacles he has faced along the way, until an unexpected guest arrives and magically saves the day.
Just like Cole, De Burca has faced his fair share of obstacles while navigating the murky waters of the entertainment industry. “When I was young my sister would go to dance classes and I would watch and one day I jumped up and did the Highland fling. So then I was dancing from the age of four and at age six I was doing ballet, tap and jazz. But I was teased as a child all my life because I was dancing,” he says.
“I went to public school but luckily I was strong of mind and I knew that the bullying really didn’t have anything to do with me. I just rose above it and walked away. I’d really love to do some study into this to see if the perception of male dancers has changed. I had a love of dance and the bullying just washed off my back.
“Everybody has an interesting story to tell and that’s why I wanted to tell Cole’s, it’s also a real look into what Hollywood was like back then. In the show Jack Cole puts it very bluntly to the audience how tough Hollywood really is.”
Cole’s choreography can be seen in iconic films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Some Like It Hot, but he could be difficult to work with, according to tales De Burca has heard. “He’d say ‘don’t give up your day job, darling’ – he’s the original Simon Cowell,” De Burca laughs. “But his story has never been fully told and I am looking forward to sharing it with people.”
Goodbye Miss Monroe is now playing at Metro Arts Theatre until 22 March.