By: Sandi Margolis @Sandi Margolis
Production Photo Credit for “Grey Gardens” The Musical: Craig Schwartz
Photo Credit for Celebrity Red Carpet: Ryan Miller for Capture Imaging
July 19, 2016, The Ahmanson Theatre-
“Grey Gardens” The Musical opened on Wednesday, July 14th to thunderous applause and standing ovations (one prior to the performance which I’ll get to later). It is the tragic tale of “Big” Edie and “Little” Edie Beale, the eccentric aunt and cousin of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her younger sister Lee. Set in East Hampton, Long Island, this is the sad journey and love/hate relationship between mother-daughter “high society blue bloods” in the early 1940’s to notorious recluses in the 1970’s. Penniless and with the once magnificent estate in decay, they lived in squalor in one of the bedrooms with only memories of how it might have been and their 50 cats. Sadly, it is the true story of “riches to rags.”
“Grey Gardens” The Musical” is based on the Maysles Brothers’ iconic 1975 documentary of the same name and originally premiered on Broadway in 2006. The book is by Doug Wright with music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie. In 2007, it received 10 Tony Award® nominations and Tony Awards® went to Christine Ebersol as “Little” Edie Beale (Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical) and Mary Louise Wilson as “Big” Edie Beale (Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical).
Passing the torch in 2016 is the incomparable Betty Buckley (“The ‘Voice of Broadway” and best known for her Tony Award® winning role in “Cats”) as “Big” Edie Beale, the dynamic and versatile actress, singer, dancer Rachel York as “Little” Edie Beale (“Victor/Victoria,” “City of Angels”) and Sarah Hunt as Young “Little” Edie Beale. Supporting cast members include Bryan Batt as “George Gould Strong,” the live-in musical accompanist,” Davon Williams as Brooks, the butler, Katie Silverman as “Jackie Bouvier,” Peyton Ella as “Lee Bouvier,” and Josh Young as “Joseph P. Kennedy.”
Directed by Michael Wilson, “he brought in new elements into the production utilizing both live-feed and pre-recorded footage to bring the original documentary more into focus within the musical’s story telling.” The production included top notch scenic design by Jeff Cowie, striking costumes by Ilona Somogyi, choreography by Hope Clarke and music direction by Robert Bennett.
What would opening night be without celebrities? Stars of theatre and television included Rene Taylor (“The Nanny”) and husband Joe Bologna (mainstays on Opening Night), Charles Shaughnessy (“The Nanny”), Jaclyn Smith (“Charlie’s Angels”), Eric Roberts (“The Dark Knight”), Necar Zadegan (“Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce”), Vincent Rodriguez III (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Jonathan Del Arco (“Major Crimes”), Sharon Lawrence (“Rizzoli & Isles”), Joely Fisher (“Ellen”), Barrett Foa (“NCIS: Los Angeles”) and Michael Sucsy, director of the 2009 HBO film “Grey Gardens,” which starred Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. I’m saving the best for last. Broadway’s Grand Dame herself, Ms. Angela Lansbury rose to her feet and received a standing ovation following her pre-taped, turn off your cell phone and unwrap your candy announcement before curtain time. Don’t you just love the theatre? You never what to expect. What a night! What a show! Wonderful performances by the entire cast, a superlative production and a real treat! A must see!
“Grey Gardens” The Musical continues through August 14, 2016.
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to www.CenterTheatreGroup.org, in person at the CTG box office and by phone: 213- 972-4400. The Ahmanson Theatre is located at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue, DTLA
About the Writer
The author, Sandi Margolis is an accomplished actress, singer/pianist as well as an editor/writer. She is also known as the “Realtor to the Stars” as she specializes in representing Hollywood talent and executives in the purchase and sale of residential properties. She can be contacted at her office at Keller Williams Realty in Beverly Hills.