Marni Nixon. You might not know her name but you sure as hell know her voice.
Dubbed 'the ghostess with the mostess' (what a horrible rhyme, as Marni would say) she was renowned throughout the movie circuit for her perfect pitch, versatile voice and ability to adopt languages, making her one of the most employed ghost singers of Old Hollywood. Though you probably don’t even know it.
Giving her voice is this 60-minute biography (23 January). It’s a one-woman show, carried by the marvellous Eliza Jackson who herself could be considered a vocal chameleon. No sidekick or elaborate props are needed as she spills out Marni’s story of anonymity, determination and struggle, in word and song with accents and styles that change as easily as you would your underwear.
But more than her songs are her stories. She spits out tales of Marilyn Monroe, Deborah Kerr, Audrey Hepburn and Natalie Wood, who she met and studied. mimicking their gestures and mannerisms, to ultimately pull the wool over our eyes.
Eliza must have done the same because her performance is addictive and authentic. She delivers the tightly refined script with ease, personality and humour. It’s enough to make us smile, even chuckle, but not detract from the bigger picture: that Hollywood is full of ghost singers – even today – and each and every one of them deserves to be given a voice.
In this show, Marni Nixon has certainly been given one.