Grey Gardens (musical)
Cover of Broadway original cast recording of Grey Gardens
|Basis||1975 Documentary Grey Gardens|
Grey Gardens is a musical with book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie, based on the 1975 documentary of the same title about the lives of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale ("Big Edie") and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale ("Little Edie") by Albert and David Maysles. The Beales were Jacqueline Kennedy's aunt and cousin, respectively. Set at Grey Gardens, the Bouviers' mansion in East Hampton, New York, the musical tracks the progression of the two women's lives from their original status as rich and socially polished aristocrats to their eventual largely isolated existence in a home overrun by cats and cited for repeated health code violations. However, its more central purpose is to untangle the complicated dynamics of their dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship.
The first act depicts the characters in their heyday and is a speculative take on what their lives might have been like when they were younger, when Little Edie was 24 and Big Edie 47. The second act is set 32 years later in 1973, and hews closely to the Maysles Brothers' documentary in its portrayal of them in their later years, when Little Edie is 56 and Big Edie is 79. The same actress who plays Big Edie in the first act plays Little Edie in the second act.
The musical opened Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons on February 10, 2006 and ran through April 30, 2006. Directed by Michael Greif with choreography by Jeff Calhoun, it starred Christine Ebersole, Mary Louise Wilson, and John McMartin. It received mixed reviews, but attracted particularly good reviews for Ebersole and Wilson. It earned five Lucille Lortel Award nominations and twelve Drama Desk Award nominations.
Christine Ebersole received the Obie Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics' Circle, and the Drama League Award for Performance of the Year (2006) for her dual roles of Edith and Edie Beale in the Off-Broadway production.
The show opened, with revisions, on Broadway on November 2, 2006 at the Walter Kerr Theatre and closed on July 29, 2007, after 307 performances and 33 previews. The production was nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 2007, winning three, including awards for both Ebersole and Wilson in leading and featured actress categories, respectively.
According to an article in Playbill.com (November 21, 2007), composer Scott Frankel said there are no plans for a national tour based on the 2006-07 Broadway production, but "Dramatists Play Service, Inc. is handling the show's licensing to stock, amateur, university and resident theatres. Independent productions will start playing in those markets in 2008."
The Canadian Premiere was presented from May 2–19, 2012 courtesy of Fighting Chance Productions in Vancouver, BC at the Jericho Arts Centre. The cast featured Cathy Wilmot (Big Edie - Act One/Little Edie - Act Two), Lucas Blaney (Joe Kennedy), Ranae Miller (Little Edie - Act One), Sue Sparlin (Big Edie - Act Two), Jack Rigg (Major Bouvier), Carman J. Price (Gould), Hal Rogers (Brooks), Angela Cotton (Jackie Bouvier) and Emma Cawood (Lee Bouvier) with direction and musical staging by Ryan Mooney and music direction by Caitlin Hayes.
A Japanese production opened on November 7, 2009 at Theater Creation in Tokyo and closed on December 6. The production then toured other Japanese cities, including Osaka and Nagoya.
A documentary from Independent Lens, Grey Gardens: From East Hampton to Broadway, about the making of the musical, was screened on October 18, 2007, at the Hamptons International Film Festival Long Island, and was later shown on television on PBS stations.
- Act I (1941)
- Edith Bouvier Beale — Christine Ebersole
- George Gould Strong — Bob Stillman
- Brooks, Sr. — Michael Potts
- Jacqueline Bouvier — Sarah Hyland
- Lee Bouvier — Audrey Twitchell (Kelsey Fowler on Broadway)
- Edie — Sara Gettelfinger (Erin Davie on Broadway)
- Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. — Matt Cavenaugh
- J.V. "Major" Bouvier — John McMartin
- Act II (1973)
- Edith Bouvier Beale — Mary Louise Wilson
- "Little" Edie Beale — Christine Ebersole
- Brooks, Jr — Michael Potts
- Jerry — Matt Cavenaugh
- Norman Vincent Peale — John McMartin
Act I 
Act II 
≈ denotes new songs written for the Broadway production.
Songs omitted in the Broadway production: "Toyland," "Body Beautiful Beale," "Being Bouvier," "Better Fall Out of Love," "Tomorrow's Woman," "Peas in a Pod" (Reprise).
The Broadway production was received enthusiastically by critics. Time Magazine named Grey Gardens the No. 1 best show to come out in 2006. In reviewing the Off-Broadway production, Ben Brantley, reviewing for The New York Times, wrote "A blend of gentle compassion and acute observation, Ms. Ebersole's performance is one of the most gorgeous ever to grace a musical." However, he also noted that the musical "tilts perilously toward cheap celebrity camp." with a "very long and finally tedious first act." Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote that the musical "brings to mind two phrases seldom linked nowadays: 'Broadway musical' and 'artistic integrity'... the songs, with music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie, sustain a level of refined language and psychological detail as elevated as Stephen Sondheim's. The score is a meticulously fashioned piece of musical theater that gains in depth the more you listen to it."
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
- The line "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood" in the song "Around the World" references the poem 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost. In the 1975 Maysles documentary, Little Edie paraphrased/misquoted some lines from the Frost poem.
- Jones, Kenneth."'Grey Gardens' Takes Root on Broadway Beginning Oct. 3" playbill.com, October 3, 2006
- Jones, Kenneth.Will Grey Gardens Grow in London? Creative Team Has Hope playbill.com, November 21, 2007
- Hetrick, Adam."Thank Heaven You're Here": Grey Gardens Premieres in Japan playbill.com, November 7, 2009
- Jones, Kenneth. "New 'Grey Gardens' Documentary, About the Making of the Musical, Screens Oct. 18" playbill, October 18, 2007
- Jones, Kenneth."'Grey Gardens' Will Sprout a Fresh Broadway Cast Album, Due in March" playbill.com, February 12, 2007
- Zoglin, Richard."Top 10 Everything 2006. TIME names the year's best in arts and entertainment" Time Magazine, December 20, 2006
- Brantley, Ben."Theater Review.'Grey Gardens'" The New York Times, March 8, 2006
- BWW News Desk. broadwayworld.com
- Portantiere, Michael.Sunday in Grey Gardens With Martin Short" theatermania.com, April 3, 2007
- Grey Gardens, the Musical
- Production: Grey Gardens Working in the Theatre video from the American Theatre Wing, November 2006
- KnightattheMovies.com September 2007 interview with Grey Gardens composer Scott Frankel
- Grey Gardens (musical) at the Internet Broadway Database
- Off-Broadway listing at lortel.org
- GREY GARDENS: From East Hampton to Broadway site for Independent Lens on PBS
- East of Doheny, production company
- Grey Gardens Online Information Website