Joanne Hartstone has written a nifty little acting/singing showcase for herself. The one-hour, one-person The Girl Who Jumped Off The Hollywood Sign has aspiring actress Evie Edwards precariously perched on the crossbar of the H on the famous Hollywoodland sign in 1949. Evie’s had a rough life, losing her mother in childbirth, living in a Hooverville during the Depression, losing her alcoholic father to a bar brawl and never attracting enough attention to become more than a messenger girl at the fabled MGM studios. Her biggest accomplishment was dancing with the boys at the Hollywood Canteen during the war. After being rejected by Hollywood’s star making agent, Evie climbs the sign and prepares to jump into history. While up there looking down on the town that has looked down on her, Evie recalls other tragic Hollywood actresses. She is even wearing one of Theda Bara’s own dresses for the special occasion. Theda was the original movie vamp but none of her films exist in their entirety. Jean Harlow ruined her health to keep her signature “platinum blonde” look by using toxic chemicals on her hair and scalp each week. Judy Garland was on the MGM pill diet from age 14 and in and out of rehab when the studio found her behavior erratic. Hollywood was always on the lookout for the next big star so everyone was dispensable.
It’s a tale often told but Hartstone has added a few personal touches to give it some freshness. She also performs a few musical numbers, including the original Rodgers and Hart lyrics for “Blue Moon,” which was originally called “Prayer (Oh Lord make me a movie star)” and written to be sung in a film by Jean Harlow. Director Vince Fusco added the right amount of staging so that poor Evie is not just left clinging to that H for an hour. If you like Hollywood history, check out The Girl Who and see if she does indeed jump.