On January 23 and 24, Eliza Jackson will be bringing her show The Voice Behind The Stars to Sydney’s Seymour Centre. Written and performed by Australian born, London based actress and singer Eliza Jackson, the one-woman show explores the life of Marni Nixon, the most prolific ghost singer of all time; responsible for dubbing songs for films like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The King and I, An Affair to Remember and My Fair Lady.
“You know her voice, but people don’t know her story,” Eliza told me over the phone from London. Introduced to Marni Nixon’s story by her mother over half a decade ago, Jackson initially dismissed the idea of producing a show based on it, saying “I can’t possibly write this.”
However, the idea evidently made an impression on her, “by the end of last year I was like ‘I reckon I’ve got it in me, I’m going to give it a go.’” The Voice Behind The Stars was an immediate success, with a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. “I couldn’t really believe that her story hadn’t been told already,” Jackson said on the importance of sharing Marni Nixon’s life with the public, “we need stories about strong independent women who fought for what they believed in to be told.”
Despite her role in the critical success of many of old Hollywood’s films, Nixon’s paycheck didn’t reflect that – for her role singing as Anna on The King and I soundtrack, she received a meagre $420.
If it weren’t for an interview with actress Deborah Kerr who accidently uncovered the secret, Nixon would have been fated to live a life entirely in the shadows. To characterise the life of Nixon, Jackson watched countless interviews to emulate the late singer’s accent and mannerisms, and tracked down an out of print autobiography which served as the basis for much of The Voice Behind The Stars.
“She’s just such an incredibly strong and powerful woman, and it’s really because of her that people who do ghost singing, dubbing and voiceover work now get the credit and payment that they deserve,” Jackson said on Nixon’s instrumental role in shifting the landscape of dubbing work.
The Voice Behind The Stars marks Eliza Jackson’s first foray into writing, as well as her first one woman show. “I didn’t leave my laptop for like thirteen hours and just smashed out a first draft,” she said of the writing process, “I got [Marni’s] voice in my head and it just started flowing”.
Featuring much adored songs from old Hollywood ‘sung’ by the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Natalie Wood, The Voice Behind The Stars takes audiences through Marni’s life from her childhood on the vaudeville stage to her job as a messenger girl for MGM which provided her with insider information on auditions for The King and I, while weaving in Hollywood anecdotes and juicy titbits on the true personas of the stars Marni worked with. “I’m just so thrilled to be bringing the show back home,” Eliza said on her upcoming Australian performances.
For more information on The Voice Behind The Stars and to purchase tickets, click here: https://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/the-voice-behind-the-stars/