On Saturday, October 7th at 4 pm in the Latches Theater in Brattleboro VT. Director Muffie Meyer, a close friend to the late Andrew Kopkind, will present her 1975 film classic GREY GARDENS, and artist Pacifico Palumbo will exhibit 12 of his latest Grey Gardens Oil Paintings, an homage to Grey Gardens, as a benefit for Kopkind. The paintings are can be seen right now at www.greenemporium.com. Go to Gallery Current Show. The paintings will soon be found at www.greygardensart.com. The price for the event is $10 and it benefits Kopkind. You can meet Muffie and me Pacifico Palumbo (The Artist) Please pass the word on.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Monday, September 25, 2006
All the more reason to be glued to your TV on October 29th!
From Playbill, by Kenneth Jones, 25 September 2006
Ebersole and Wilson Appear on TCM for "Grey Gardens" Airing Oct. 29
David and Albert Maysles' 1975 documentary, "Grey Gardens," will appear on cable's Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Oct. 29 in a presentation that includes the stars of the new Broadway musical of the same name.
The film portrait of Jackie Bouvier's aunt and cousin, Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter "Little" Edie, is a cult classic — a portrait of social and personal decay and perseverance. It airs 8 PM (ET) Oct. 29. Check local listings for channel on your cable system.
The TCM premiere comes just days before the Broadway opening of the Grey Gardens musical on Nov. 2 at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Previews begin Oct. 3.
The musical stars Tony Award-winner Christine Ebersole and Tony Award nominee Mary Louise Wilson, giving performances that uncannily match the women seen in the film. TCM will supplement the documentary with Robert Osborne interviewing both Ebersole and Wilson prior to and concluding the film.
According to the musical's producers, "Grey Gardens showcases the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who were once among the brightest names in the pre-Camelot social register but became East Hampton's most notorious recluses that thrived together amid the decay and disorder of their dilapidated 28-room mansion. Grey Gardens records the Beales' real lives from mother and daughter quarrelling to the ruined estate crawling with cats and fleas."
Act One of the show is set is 1941, as preparations are made for a party at Grey Gardens', the Beales Long Island home. Act Two is set 30 years later as mother and daughter live in squalor with only memories of their past potential.
"Grey Gardens" (the movie) is a Maysles Films Inc. production directed by David Maysles, Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, and associate produced by Susan Froemke.
Turner Classic Movies, currently seen in more than 70 million homes, is a 24-hour cable network from Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company. "TCM presents the greatest motion pictures of all time from the largest film library in the world, the combined Time Warner and Turner film libraries, from the '20s through the '90s, commercial-free and without interruption. Visit www.tcm.com.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Grey Gardens will air on TCM on October 29 at 8:00 p.m. I already have the DVD, but there's something fun about watching a show live on the tube! This showing will be a great way for the film to reach new fans and keep the ball rolling with the publicity for the musical and upcoming movie!
Your boy Buster is always interested in seeing summaries of the film. Here's the one from TCM.com:
The unbelievable but true story of Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie, the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Mother and daughter live in a world of their own behind the towering privets that surround their decaying 28-room East Hampton mansion known as "Grey Gardens," a place so far gone that the local authorities once threatened to evict them for violating building and sanitation codes. Mrs. Beale, a.k.a. "Big Edie," was born an aristocrat, sister of "Black Jack" Bouvier, Jackie O's father. "Little Edie" was an aspiring actress of striking beauty who put her New York life on hold to care for her mother--and never left her side again. Together they descended into a strange life of dependence and eccentricity that none had ever shared until the Maysles Brothers arrived with their camera and tape recorder in hand.
It's actually not a 28-room mansion, but nearly every news article has described it as such!
Friday, September 22, 2006
This blog hasn't been around forever, so there's plenty of Grey Gardens-related news that hasn't been posted on here. Here's an article on Edie's style as seen through the documentary, movie, musical, and pop culture. Right up our alley!
From Entertainment Weekly, by Michelle Kung, on 12 May 2006
It's been more than 30 years since Edith "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale pinned a makeshift skirt around her mesh-covered legs and became an unlikely sartorial legend by declaring that her random outfit was "the best costume for the day" in the cult documentary Grey Gardens. Outrageous, tormented, and utterly original, Beale—who died in 2002—was recently celebrated in an Off Broadway musical; Drew Barrymore will play her in an upcoming movie from first-time director Michael Sucsy. How did a reclusive ex-model living in squalor end up as one of the creative community's most enduring muses? Take a look.
Design within Reach
Todd Oldham, John Bartlett, and Marc Jacobs (whose fall 2006 line, above, featured plenty of slovenly duds that Edie would have loved) have all cribbed Beale's DIY designs. Sucsy thinks her appeal goes beyond those famously ratty clothes: "The costumes are just a manifestation of who she is. There's something vulnerable and strong about her, which is iconic. We come back to individuals who have this underbelly of pain."
Edie's most memorably accessory—random fabrics wrapped, turbanlike, around her head—lives on. J. Lo sported one while filming El Cantante, as has America's Next Top Model's delusional Jade. Says Sucsy: "Edie was deliberate. It wasn't like she found a dish towel on the floor and just wore it on her head. It's like children. Give them limited materials, and they turn a pot into a hat. That's what Edie did. That's what a designer does."
Rufus Wainwright sang about the fabled mansion on his 2001 album, Poses, which also included a snippet of dialogue from Gardens. The film has been name-checked on Gilmore Girls and was aped in a recent YouTube.com mash-up that featured shots of Edie dancing around the mansion's foyer and waving the American flag to... the strains of Madonna's "Hung Up."
The Play Girl
Costume designer William Ivey Long had one big challenge while outfitting Christine Ebersole, who played Beale Off Broadway in Grey Gardens. "[Edie] wore a lot of turtlenecks. You can't take them off while you're singing," he says. "They'll hit the mic. I sewed things thing onto Christine. We had to make it look like she just wrapped [the clothes on] and walked out. I haven't sewn so much in years."
Isn't news fun?
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
It also seems that "The Beales of Grey Gardens" will also be available on its own individual DVD, separate from the "Grey Gardens" DVD re-release. This might be a good cost-effective option for those of us who already have "Grey Gardens" on DVD, as that first disc in the Criterion re-release contains all the same features as the original Criterion release.
Official details about the upcoming Criterion re-release of Grey Gardens with The Beales of Grey Gardens
Meet Big and Little Edie Beale--high-society dropouts, mother and daughter, reclusive cousins of Jackie O.--thriving together amid the decay and disorder of their ramshackle East Hampton mansion. An impossibly intimate portrait and an eerie echo of the Kennedy Camelot, Albert and David Maysles's 1976 Grey Gardens quickly became a cult classic and established Little Edie as a fashion icon and philosopher queen. Thirty years later, the filmmakers revisited their landmark documentary with a sequel of sorts, The Beales of Grey Gardens, culled from hours of never-before-seen footage recently found in the filmmakers' vaults.
Now includes the 2006 feature-length follow-up "The Beales of Grey Gardens"
Disc One: "Grey Gardens"
- New digital transfer
- Audio commentary by filmmakers Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer, and Susan Froemke
- Excerpts from a recorded interview with Little Edie Beale by Kathryn G. Graham for Interview magazine (1976)
- Video interviews with fashion designers Todd Oldham and John Bartlett on the influence of Grey Gardens
- Behind-the-scenes photographs
- English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
Disc Two: "The Beales of Grey Gardens"
- New digital transfer, approved by director Albert Maysles
- New video introduction by Maysles
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Plus: A new essay by cultural critic Michael Musto
Monday, September 18, 2006
A few slightly off facts, but I can't be more excited and I wish I could go!
Riverhead Free Library Author Book Discussion: Lois Wright
Tuesday, 19 September 2006, at 1:30 P.M.
330 Court Street, Riverhead, NY 11901
The "Grey Gardens" estate of East Hampton was the home of Edith Bouvier Beale (Big Edie) and her daughter "Little Edie". They were the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.
Lois Wright of East Hampton knew the Bouvier Beales from the 1950s and she lived in the mansion for a year and a half in the mid-'70s when she was an artist, painted, and kept a memoir. In 1975, the Maysles brothers came to the estate and, over a six week period, created the documentary "Grey Gardens." Lois was there during the filming and is in the film. The estate and mansion were in ruins and filled with dozens of cats and raccoons in the attic.
This Maysles film premiered in 1975 and won awards in London and Edinborough and has been shown at film festivals throughout the world--becoming a cult classic.
Lois will share her memories of Lee Bouvier Radziwill visiting her aunt with John Jr. and Caroline, and read excerpts from her new memoir with includes Jacqueline and Onassis calling on the phone to speak with Big Edie.
Lois will also discuss recent developments of "Grey Gardens" after 30 years with an off-Broadway musical "Grey Gardens", starring Christine Ebersole (Tony Award Winner) which is going to Broadway October 3rd, the new CD of the cast album just released, and also the filming of "Grey Gardens" screenplay which will star Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange and will begin shooting in October 2006.
Lois will show excerpts from the new Maysles film "The Beales of Grey Gardens" based on unseen footage from the original Maysles "Grey Gardens" 1976 film. This is presently being shown at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Guest pianist Andrew F. Wargo will play some of "Big Edie"'s favorite songs on the Steinway grand piano: "Tea for Two", "Only a Rose", "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", etc.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
From NPR's Morning Edition, by Howie Movshovitz, on 12 September 2006
'Grey Gardens' Adds Extra Footage on DVD
The 1975 documentary Grey Gardens, made by the Maysles brothers, is being re-issued on DVD with an extra hour of footage. The controversial film peers into the scattered and reclusive lives of two of Jackie Onassis' cousins. The women lived in a decrepit East Hampton mansion.
Presumably, that "extra hour of footage" refers to The Beales of Grey Gardens.
Don't miss listening to the full story!
From Hamptons Online, 13 September 2006
Grey Gardens the Musical
GREY GARDENS brings to life both the delightfully eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Once among the brightest names in the pre-Camelot social register, these two women became East Hampton’s most notorious recluses, living in a dilapidated 28-room mansion. Set in two eras – in 1941 when the estate was in its prime and in 1973 when it was reduced to squalor – the musical tells the alternately hilarious and heartbreaking story of two indomitable individuals, Edith Bouvier Beale and her adult daughter ‘Little’ Edie.
The Broadway production of GREY GARDENS reunites the original creative and design team, featuring scenic design by Allen Moyer, costume design by five-time Tony Award winner William Ivey Long, lighting design by Tony Award winner Peter Kaczorowski, sound design by Brian Ronan and projections by Wendall K. Harrington. Orchestrations are by Tony Award winner Bruce Coughlin and Music Director is Lawrence Yurman.
The musical GREY GARDENS helped usher in a new resurgence in the Grey Gardens phenomenon. The first project celebrating the 30th anniversary of the film, the musical is being followed by the Maysles Brothers recently-released companion movie The Beales of Grey Gardens (featuring previously-unseen outtakes from the original documentary), several upcoming books (including a collection of Edie’s original poetry) and a future Hollywood feature based on the documentary, which is now in pre-production.
GREY GARDENS had its World Premiere at Playwrights Horizons, opening March 7, 2006 and completely sold out its initial limited engagement as well as three extensions. The musical was named Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical by the Outer Critics Circle Awards and was also the winner of a 2006 Richard Rodgers Production Award, administered by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. It was most recently honored by the theater annual Best Plays as one of the ten best of the 2005-2006 season, and the only musical cited.
Critics have praised GREY GARDENS as “A boldly-imaginative musical” (David Rooney, Variety), “A dark and fascinating work with a stylish score that hearkens back to the sound of George Gershwin and Cole Porter” (David Cote, NY-1 News), “Madly enjoyable” (Michael Sommers, Star-Ledger), “First-rate – a beautiful production, beautifully crafted writing and sumptuous performances” (Michael Feingold, Village Voice) and “Lusciously designed and stunningly performed. GREY GARDENS brings great wit and luster to the musical season” (Howard Kissel, Daily News). Praising the show in Time Magazine, Richard Zoglin unknowingly foreshadowed, “GREY GARDENS might have been the best Broadway musical of the season, except that it can’t move to Broadway because all the theaters are filled” and Liz Smith wrote, “A trip to GREY GARDENS is worth every step. If it opened on Broadway it would surely be nominated for quite a few Tony Awards!”
The world premiere recording, featuring the Off-Broadway cast, has just been released on PS Classics. For more information, visit www.psclassics.com.
Tickets ($86.25-$111.25) are currently available by visiting www.telecharge.com or calling (212) 239-4200. The Walter Kerr Theatre box office (219 West 48th Street) will open Tuesday, September 5. Balcony seats ($36.25) will only be available in person at the box office.
You can also enter a drawing for a free pair of tickets by signing up for their mailing list.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
A rare photo of a young Big Edie (misidentified as the wife of J.V. Bonner) is available in the Amica library.
There's also a photo of her brother, John Vernou Bouvier the 3rd.
Many thanks to the anonymous contributor who sent passed along this terrific link!
Film scholar John David Rhodes recently came out with an essay on Grey Gardens entitled, "'Concentrated Ground': Grey Gardens and the Cinema of the Domestic". The entire text of it (with images) is available online. I haven't finished it yet myself, but I already am seeing how the architectural take in the essay is fresh and compelling!
Thanks to the anonymous contributor who sent passed along this link.
From Playbill, by Andrew Gans, on 8 September 2006
DIVA TALK: Chatting with Grey Gardens' Christine Ebersole Plus News of Lansbury, LuPone and Kritzer
Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole says she is feeling fantastic. And, why shouldn't she be? After winning every major award available to her for her thrilling performance in the Playwrights Horizons production of Grey Gardens, the celebrated actress is set to bring her acclaimed portrayals of Edith Bouvier Beale and "Little" Edie Beale to Broadway this fall when the musical begins previews Oct. 3 at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Those awards, it should be noted, include the Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, an Obie, a special citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle and the Drama League's 2006 Distinguished Performance of the Year Award.
Grey Gardens, which features a book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie, was inspired by the 1975 documentary of the same name that captured the lives of the two Beales who were then living in squalor in what had once been a luxurious estate. Ebersole portrays both women with staggering emotional detail: the spotlight-hungry mother Edith in the first act and the middle-aged, nonconformist Little Edie in the second. I recently had the chance to chat with Ebersole about her imminent return to Broadway as well as her solo Actors' Fund of America benefit concert Sept. 18 at New World Stages. That brief interview, conducted by phone as Ebersole was making her way home by train to Maplewood, NJ, follows.
Question: What type of material will you be performing at the Actors' Fund concert?
Christine Ebersole: It's gonna be Christine like you've never heard her before! [Laughs.] I'd say, basically, we're going to Woodstock. It's like Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, The Eagles, Dixie Chicks, Tank, Michael McDonald, Bob Dylan — those kind of songs.
Q: Will there be a band?
Ebersole: Yes, a nine-piece band and back-up singers. It's just going to be a rock-n-roll night!
Q: Any Broadway material?
Ebersole: One Broadway song, and that is "Will You?" from Grey Gardens.
Q: Will you have any special guests?
Ebersole: [Grey Gardens co-star] Bob Stillman. I'm singing one of Bob Stillman's songs in the show called "Can't Go Back There," a song that he wrote and recorded. It's a gorgeous song. I'm singing that song, and I also have asked him to sing with me on a Linda Ronstadt song called "Prisoner in Disguise."
Q: What does the Actors' Fund mean to you?
Ebersole: Well, first of all, the Actors' Fund is an unbelievably generous organization. As you know, it helps all the people in the arts, in every field of the arts, in every aspect of the arts, people in need. But the example that they set in their organization, they also set with what they provide for the artists that are performing. And that's unbelievable generosity in providing the band and the theatre. It's not like, "Here's a piano — Go!" [Laughs.] It's like, "You want horns? We'll give you horns. You want back-up singers? We'll give you back-up singers."
Q: Any chance you might record these songs at some point?
Ebersole: We're hoping to do that, yes.
Q: Now, getting to Grey Gardens. How did the roles in Grey Gardens come about for you?
Ebersole: They asked me to do the show. [Producer] Scott Frankel asked me to do it.
Q: I know many critics have said these are the roles of your career. Do you feel that way?
Ebersole: Yes. It's the role of a lifetime really.
Q: Is the show being modified at all for the bigger Broadway stage?
Ebersole: Not really. The Walter Kerr is kind of like a little jewel box. It has 900 seats in it. We didn't want something too big.
Q: What was it like playing the smaller space in Playwrights Horizons?
Ebersole: It's the ultimate intimate experience, but I think you're going to still be able to maintain that intimacy at the Walter Kerr.
Q: When did you first see the documentary of "Grey Gardens"? Had you seen it before you got involved with the show?
Ebersole: It was about a year before. The Sundance [workshop of Grey Gardens] was 2004, [and] it was 2003 that I was first introduced to the movie "Grey Gardens."
Q: Was that independent of being cast in the show?
Ebersole: Completely independent. It was like the stars were just lining up, getting ready.
Q: What were your thoughts when you first saw the film?
Ebersole: I was completely obsessed with it. I couldn't stop watching it. Morning, noon and night. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Q: Do you think the film at all exploited the women?
Ebersole: No, it celebrated them, and they were so happy and willing to invite [documentary makers] the Maysles in and have them film them and see them for who they are, which were lovers of music and art.
Q: What do you think the turning point in their lives was — that brought them from grandeur to living in squalor as they did at the end of their lives?
Ebersole: I think a big part of that was when Phelan Beale left and left them with no means of support, and they really couldn't adapt and they wouldn't conform.
Q: Do you identify with either of them in terms of being someone who doesn't necessarily conform . . .
Ebersole: Well, I think that's what inspires me about them. I think we all want to be individuals and not kowtow to what society dictates we should be — that we don't measure ourselves by the society that we live in. And they're a perfect example of that, aren't they? [Laughs.]
Q: Have there been any changes in the script or the songs for the Broadway run?
Ebersole: I think so. I'm going to find that all out tomorrow because we have our first day of rehearsal.
Q: Why do you think "Little Edie" wasn't able to escape Grey Gardens in the end?
Ebersole: There's a line that she says in the movie: "Aristocracy is the hallmark of responsibility." So, in other words, she understood her position in life, the station that she came from. She was very devoted to her mother — she was absolutely faithful and loyal. She stayed because of the mother — she had to help her mother preserve Grey Gardens, to fight for Grey Gardens.
Q: Have you had the chance to visit the real Grey Gardens?
Ebersole: Yes, I was just there for the second time on Saturday.
Q: What was the experience like the first time you went?
Ebersole: It was just so special and sort of other-worldly really because here I was entering into the very, very spot that was the genesis for the musical.
Q: What shape is Grey Gardens in today?
Ebersole: It's absolutely restored to its original splendor. Its owned by Ben Bradlee, the editor of the Washington Post, and his wife Sally Quinn.
Q: Have they seen the musical?
Ebersole: Yes, they were there opening night, and they're coming opening night when it moves to Broadway?
Q: How demanding is the show?
Ebersole: It takes everything out of me. . . .
Q: How do you manage to preserve your voice for eight shows a week?
Ebersole: I try to just nap. It's rest more than anything. It's the conservation of energy. You have to store it up in order to put it out.
Q: Do you have a favorite moment in the show?
Ebersole: Well, as long as I'm in the moment and stay present, then the whole thing is my favorite. [Laughs.] I'm enjoying each moment.
Q: What do you think is the message of Grey Gardens?
Ebersole: Well, I think it's so multi-layered, which is why people come and see it so many times. I've had people tell me that they've seen it 17 times. It's one of those shows that you can't really take it all in at once. It has a lot of things — mother and daughter relationships, parent-child relationships, opportunities missed, the road not taken, trying to bring back the past, to draw the line between the past and the present. . . . Also, it's a type of transformational experience because of the dramatization of it. It allows you into those places in our heart that produces suffering and longing. And I think people can identify with that. It's really about having compassion for human suffering and for all the things that we must deal with as human beings. It's an opportunity for us to find compassion, not only for the suffering of others but for our own.
Q: Do you feel the show has at all changed you or your outlook on life?
Ebersole: Well, it's made me stronger I think. Not just physically, but mentally it's made me stronger because I think Edie has really been an inspiration to me — just in terms of the strength and endurance and what they were assigned to endure in the great scheme of things. . . . People feel as though when you're wealthy, when you have a position in society like that, that it's going to somehow save you from suffering, and it doesn't. In a way, humanity is the great equalizer. It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor.
Q: Do you have any other projects in the works?
Ebersole: Well, the Actors' Fund concert is a huge project for me because it's not business as usual in terms of the treasure trove of jazzy tunes that normally people associate with me. This is really going back to — again, which is Edie-inspired — a time in my life when I felt that as an American citizen that I had a voice and that our society had a voice, that together we could make a difference. . . .
When [Edie] says, "They can get you in East Hampton for wearing red shoes on a Thursday," and she says, "They can get you for almost anything. It's a mean, nasty Republican town." So, it's the idea, it's the metaphor of the red shoes that is almost like her strength in starting the revolution, of wearing red shoes on a Thursday, of standing up for what you believe in and finding a voice and being a nonconformist. I think she's been an inspiration for me that way, and that's sort of what became the inspiration for the Actors' Fund benefit. . . . . She talks about the revolutionary costume and all that as an act of defiance. This is sort of an evening of protest songs, but it's more than that. It's about believing that we can make a difference, that we have a voice and can make a difference in the world.
Q: Who is the musical director for the concert?
Ebersole: Bette Sussman, who just finished [musical directing] Bette Midler's tour.
Q: Have you ever worked with her before?
Ebersole: I have. I worked with her at the Carlyle in 2002, and we also worked some venues around the country. . . . [Joni Mitchell's] "Woodstock" [was] a song that we had once arranged together on our way out to California. . . . Music really has been such a strong tool in effecting sociological change. So, that's one of the songs that we did together a couple years ago, and now that's becoming the calling card for this concert.
[Tickets for Ebersole's Sept. 18 Actors' Fund concert at New World Stages (340 West 50th Street) are priced $100, $250 and $500 and are available by calling (212) 221-7300, ext. 133. For more information visit www.actorsfund.org. Tickets for Grey Gardens at the Walter Kerr Theatre (219 West 48th Street) are available by calling (212) 239-4200 or by visiting www.telecharge.com.]
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Beales are the New Grey
New Film Picks at Bones of Classic Documentary
The late 1960s and early '70s were an incredibly fertile time for documentary films. (Not unlike the current moment, actually. When societies become disenchanted, they seem to naturally turn to nonfiction.) It was the era of Woodstock, Salesman, Cocksucker Blues, Titicut Follies, Harlan County, USA, and—above all else—Grey Gardens.
The Maysles Brothers' 1975 documentary about two women, both named Edith Beale—one was the cousin, the other the aunt of Jackie Onassis—living in mental disrepair in a squalid, ramshackle mansion in the Hamptons has become nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. Over the past 30 years, the subject's flamboyant campiness has inspired a cult-like status with gay men; the Broadway musical opened on Broadway last winter; and Drew Barrymore is currently working on the big-screen dramatization. It seems that there's only one thing for surviving co-director Albert Maysles to do with this resurgence: Cash in!
The Beales of Grey Gardens is a new film fashioned entirely from old footage that wasn't good enough to make the original movie. This isn't a follow-up on the titular women (the elder Beale died in 1977, Edie in 2002), nor is it a look at the phenomenon of the film's legacy. The Beales of Grey Gardens is simply an hour and a half of leftovers. There are a few good scenes (one including a small, but dramatic house fire), but most of the movie is comprised of exactly what you'd expect: the Beales yammering over one another, Edie singing and dancing and rambling, and the persistent sexual tension between documentarian and subject. Surely some fans are hungry enough for a Grey Gardens fix to warrant these 90 minutes, but instead of an overblown theatrical release, there's a place where this footage should have gone—it's called "bonus material" on a Criterion DVD reissue of Grey Gardens.
Al Maysles is cashing in, there's no doubt about it! But great fans of Grey Gardens will love The Beales. I did.
And the film will be included on the next Criterion DVD release of Grey Gardens.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
PS Classics' original cast recording of the Broadway-bound Grey Gardens debuted on Billboard's Top Cast Album chart in the No. 4 behind strongholds Wicked, Jersey Boys and Mamma Mia!
Broadway's Wicked is perched atop the list with the 2006 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Jersey Boys and Decca Broadway's Mamma Mia! — the triumvirate have held the top three positions now for seven consecutive weeks.
The award-winning new musical Grey Gardens released its world premiere recording Aug. 22 with the original Off-Broadway cast. The Playwrights Horizons hit — by composer Scott Frankel, lyricist Michael Korie, and librettist Doug Wright based on the cult documentary film — heads to Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre Oct. 3 for previews towards a Nov. 2 opening with Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson starring as an eccentric mother-daughter team.
Monday, September 04, 2006
From Playbill, by Steven Suskin, on 3 September 2006
On the Record
Grey Gardens and the West End Pajama Game
Grey Gardens [PS Classics PS-642]
Grey Gardens is, simply enough, the most intriguing musical theatre score since The Light in the Piazza. Composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie, along with their estimable librettist Doug Wright, have taken the line of most resistance: pick the most intriguing yet impossible-sounding source material you can find, fall in love with it and figure out a solution. That is what they have done, pretty much.
Grey Gardens was the dilapidated, 28-room mansion in East Hampton where Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie were interviewed by documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles for his 1973 documentary. Theirs was a macabre existence, enhanced by the fact that they were aunt and first cousin to Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. A fascinating and unsettling film, yes; but precisely how do you musicalize it?
The three authors have done so in this strange but arresting musical. Produced at Playwrights Horizons in March 2006, it is presently preparing for a Broadway transfer to the Kerr. PS Classics, in the meantime, has recorded the Playwrights version. While Broadway musicals need rise or fall on their power within the four walls of the playhouse, certain shows are ever so much more effective if you listen to the score first. This is one of them; for a relatively small expenditure (the CD), you are sure to enhance enjoyment of the big-ticket purchase.
Wildly inventive is a fair enough way to describe the show, and that label can be specifically applied to Mr. Frankel's music. The first section of the musical takes place in 1941, with Frankel taking us on a veritable tour of diverse pop-music styles of the time. This can easily degenerate into a scoreful of pointless WW II pastiche (as in the Sherman Brothers' 1974 musical, Over Here). It is to the great credit of Frankel – all three authors, actually – that this is decidedly not the case 'round about the gardens of Grey Gardens. Song after song is not only tuneful and lyrically-listenable; they are well-sculpted, with plot points matching musical points.
The second act of Grey Gardens switches from '41 to '73, with the tone and the mood changing as severely as the musical styles of the time; and this is where the authors run into perhaps a bit of trouble. Not at the beginning of the 1973 section, actually. Here they are inspired to write "The Revolutionary Costume for Today" and "Entering Grey Gardens," which well may be the strongest numbers of the score (along with the brilliantly executed 1941 opener, "The Five-Fifteen"). Midway into the second half — beginning with a "patriotic" march and the song about corn — the seemingly facile invention appears to be replaced by hard work. This is the infamous Chromolume Effect, which has been known to occur in the latter stages of serious-minded musicals. Is the music inferior or is this merely the medicine that the authors are determined to deliver to our overstimulated ears? With respect to Grey Gardens, let us say that the jury is still out on this question.
Discussion of the many merits of Grey Gardens aside, one towers above the rest. Christine Ebersole gives an absolutely staggering performance, the likes of which one rarely sees in the theatre. One number in particular – the aforementioned "Revolutionary Costume" – is perhaps as remarkable as any I've seen since Michael Jeter's astonishing outburst in Grand Hotel. "Revolutionary Costume" retains its power on the CD, although I would highly recommend that people interested in such things make it a priority to see Ms. Ebersole onstage in full regalia, an experience not to be missed.
There are plenty of other worthy performances in Grey Gardens, led by the fascinating Mary Louise Wilson and the always-valuable John McMartin. Music director Lawrence Yurman has things well in hand, and orchestrator Bruce Coughlin does an especially fine job in the earlier, 1941 period. (The CD uses 13 musicians, expanded from the ten at Playwrights.)
How Grey Gardens will do on Broadway remains to be seen; but the CD is certainly a winner.