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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Sirens of the Silver Screen cabaret pays homage to Hollywood icons

As part of Ductac's new series 'Ductac Presents' that promotes resident artists, Dubai-based actress and singer Beth Burrows will be staging Sirens of the Silver Screen on May 14 taking the audience on a journey of the lives of Hollywood's golden girls Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe in a cabaret-style performance.
Beth Burrows performs as Audrey Hepburn in her show Sirens of the Silver Screen. Alex Atack for The National
Beth Burrows performs as Audrey Hepburn in her show Sirens of the Silver Screen. Alex Atack for The National

On screen, they were Hollywood’s picture-perfect golden girls. But off screen, their struggles with fame proved their downfall. The most telling chapters of the lives of icons such as Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe will come to life in Sirens of the Silver Screen, a musical cabaret at Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre on Saturday.

Sirens on stage

Written and performed by ­Dubai-based British actress and singer Beth Burrows, the show is a part of Ductac Presents, a new community-theatre series launched to promote productions by resident artists.

Work on the project began in November, when Burrows found a quiet cafe in Dubai and spent two weeks unearthing and researching archived footage, photographs and interviews that would inspire her 75-­minute cabaret-style show chronicling the lives of the three leading ladies and the characters they immortalised.

“I wanted to try cabaret because it hasn’t been done here before,” says the 25-year-old. “And then I realised it had to be glamorous because, well, Dubai is glamorous. It’s all about red carpets, VIPs and diamonds.

“That brought me to vintage Hollywood and these actresses are the most identifiable from back then – they are fabulous subjects to explore.”

Burrows will take the stage dressed as three different characters – Garland’s pigtailed and pinafore-clad Dorothy in the The Wizard of Oz (1939); Hepburn’s Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), complete with the signature black dress, gloves and tiara; and as Monroe’s The Girl in the famous white cocktail dress and curly blonde wig from The Seven Year Itch (1955).

The untold stories

“It is interesting that they are all such different women from different generations and yet there is this connection between them,” says Burrows, who has a master’s degree in musical theatre from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in the ­United Kingdom.

“Judy Garland’s story is tragic in terms of her struggles with addiction and her marriages. It is very similar to the life of Marilyn Monroe, which I found fascinating. Hepburn had an altogether happier life. But it was nice to learn more about her charity work with Unicef, which I will be focusing on in the show.”

Burrows says the musical will be a marriage of three forms of media – “live music with a pianist, then there is my script, which talks about the high and low points of their lives and then we also have a video projection”.

Screening during the performance will be original footage of interviews and home videos sourced from online Hollywood archives.

“I’ve got clips of Marilyn’s first TV appearance that no one knows about because she wasn’t famous at the time. I have other really cool black-and-white interviews as well as secret footage that will be a nice surprise for the audience.”

The music

Backed by Dubai-based pianist Stanislav Serdyuk, Burrows will sing nine songs from the actresses’ best-known movies, including Somewhere Over the Rainbow (The Wizard of Oz), Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

“But my favourite has got to be Garland’s The Trolley Song from Meet Me in St Louis. It is about love at first sight when you are 17 years old. It is very innocent and excitable and a lot of fun to perform.”

Sirens of the Silver Screen will be staged at Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, on Saturday. Show starts at 8pm. Tickets cost from Dh100 for adults; Dh75 for students. For more information, visit www.ductac.org

aahmed@thenational.ae