My One & Only, ATP playRites ‘04
Tara Hughes had no idea she resembled Hollywood’s quintessential 1950’s female bombshell until a man approached her at a restaurant in Edmonton. He was decked out in a gold lame jacket. She was a platinum-blonde lingerie model who was trying to enjoy lunch with a friend.
“Have you ever been told you look like Marilyn Monroe?” the man asked. No, she said, she hadn’t. (She was reluctant to say a few people had mentioned it before.)
“Well, if you’re willing to be an impersonator, give me a call.”
When the agent left the table, a confused and sweet-natured Hughes asked an unthinkable question: “Who is Marilyn Monroe?” Gasping, her friend dragged her to the library at the University of Alberta. It was there, deep in the stacks, that Hughes discovered what many people had known for years: she was the spitting image of the Some Like It Hot star.
Hughes spent the next three years paying her way through a Bachelor of Arts degree at the U of A as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. But after earning her degree, she enrolled in theatre school and opted to give up the lucrative gig.
“I quit when I got to theatre school because they told me I had a vocal habit. I talked like her. They said I was really breathy and if I ever wanted to do stage I had to leave it behind.”
And she did, until now.
When ATP’s artistic director Bob White began casting the role of Marilyn Monroe in Ken Cameron’s play My One and Only, which opens tonight at PlayRites, he had no idea of the Marilyn talent he had stumbled upon in Hughes.
The voice. The look. The hair.
“That just came as a surprise to use. We just figured that she was the kind of actress we were looking for, not that we were looking for a Marilyn look-alike per se,” says White. “There was something about Tara’s sensuality, not to mention her acting ability (she’s very, very good), that made her seem right for the part.”
In Cameron’s play, My One and Only, a local boy (played by Kevin MacDonald) meets and falls in love with Marilyn Monroe during her visit to Banff in 1953.
When she isn’t filming a scene for River of No
Return or medicating her broken ankle, the Hollywood legend finds herself
on the verge of love.
“Marilyn Monroe is our Goddess,” writes Cameron. “Even today, she is on the cover of Vogue or Cosmo. We call her Elle or Claudia, but we all know that deep down, our modern images are but pale imitations of the goddess, just like statues of the Virgin Mary aren’t quite the real thing, but as close as we mortals can get.”