On Broadway, Weighing the Risks and Rewards of Staging ‘Some Like It Hot’

Adriana Hicks

Photo: Matthew Murphy

Although Hicks has tried not to compare herself to Monroe, certain distinctions were necessary to articulate. Monroe’s Sugar is a woman who has suffered—a woman who, as a famous line from the script has it, always got the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Pregnant with a child she would ultimately miscarry and struggling with drugs and alcohol, Monroe evinced an air of unhappiness that gave her Sugar a note of quiet desperation. (Monroe’s then husband, Arthur Miller, would later blame Wilder for overworking Monroe on set and causing her miscarriage, to which Wilder responded: “Had you, dear Arthur, been not her husband but her writer and director and been subjected to all the indignities I was, you would have thrown her out on her can, thermos bottle and all, to avoid a nervous breakdown. I did the braver thing. I had a nervous breakdown.”)

Sugar may think she is doing the seducing of her phony millionaire, but she reads at least in part as a victim—not least because of the old-fashioned sexism of the source material. “For someone to pose as a millionaire and lie in order to get a woman into bed—that’s not going to fly now,” says Nicholaw. “It shouldn’t have flown then.” López too was drawn to the idea that the new Some Like It Hot might complicate its slightly twisted legacy when it comes to women: They are the saviors and the butt of the jokes, the objects of admiration and conquests in waiting. In López’s rereading of the show, it can be seen as a show about “the options women are given and the choices they have to make in relation to their options,” he says. Why would a woman in the 1930s join a traveling band? “Maybe it’s not great to be a female musician in Chicago. Maybe there are no jobs for women. Who’s going to hire a female saxophonist?” The updated approach, Nicholaw says, “gives Sugar the upper hand.” Hicks doesn’t quite reach for a 21st-century vocabulary of agency and validation, but she too sees a different path for her character: “She chooses a different mode of life. It’s one that shows her power and her choice to start anew and take on a different mindset when it comes to men, music, and her dreams.”

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