Grey Gardens, Off-Broadway's Sold-Out Sensation, Is Broadway Bound; Will Bloom at Kerr

News   Grey Gardens, Off-Broadway's Sold-Out Sensation, Is Broadway Bound; Will Bloom at Kerr
 
Grey Gardens, the Off-Broadway musical tale of misfit mother-and-daughter socialites who brushed up against greatness, will bloom on Broadway starting in fall 2006, producers announced May 15.

Christine Ebersole will lead Grey Gardens to Broadway.
Christine Ebersole will lead Grey Gardens to Broadway. Photo by Joan Marcus

Following a sold-out spring run at Playwrights Horizons, East of Doheny (Kelly Gonda, Founder and President; Beth Williams, Executive Producer), in association with Playwrights Horizons (Tim Sanford, Artistic Director; Leslie Marcus, Managing Director), will present the musical at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Previews are expected to begin in October. No specific dates have been announced yet.

The only announced stars are Christine Ebersole and Mary-Louise Wilson, who thrilled critics with their deeply-felt impersonations of Long Island socialite Edith Bouvier Beale. Ebersole played her at 40-ish in Act One, set in the 1941, and Wilson played her in withered old-age in Act Two, set in 1973.

Ebserole earned raves from critics — and a basket of nominations and awards — for playing Edith's mentally-addled grown daughter, Little Edie, in Act Two. Already awarded and praised for her turn(s), it would seem that the 2007 Tony Award — a year from now — might easily find its way to her mantle.

The musical by Doug Wright (book), Michael Korie (lyrics) and Scott Frankel (music) is inspired by the 1975 film documentary of the same name, which charted the broken women's lives as they clattered around the shambles of a mansion that had once seen grand parties. Theatre critics agreed that the actresses seemed to be channeling the indelible film images of the late ladies — with the help, of course, of costume designer William Ivey Long and wig designer Paul Huntley.

Ebersole has been talking in recent weeks about a Broadway move for Grey Gardens, but it only became official May 15, following the recent announcement that the Walter Kerr's current tenant, Doubt, would exit July 2. The fact that Ebserole and Wilson are the only announced cast members suggests that some re-casting may be expected.

Sara Gettelfinger and John McMartin had choice parts in the musical, respectively playing Edith's daughter, Edie, in Act One, and Edith's father, Maj. Bouvier.

Directed by Tony Award nominee and Obie winner Michael Greif (Rent), Grey Gardens has musical staging by Tony Award nominee Jeff Calhoun (Big River, Grease!).

Here's how the producers characterize the show: "Grey Gardens concerns both the deliciously 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, 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 alternatively hilarious and heartbreaking story of two indomitable individuals, Edith Bouvier Beale and her adult daughter 'Little' Edie."

The Broadway production of Grey Gardens will reunite 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.

For her performance, Ebersole has won an Outer Critics Circle Award, an Obie Award, a special citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle and the Drama League's 2006 Distinguished Performance of the Year Award (male or female, Broadway or Off-Broadway), as well as a Drama Desk nomination.

Wilson has earned Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Lortel nominations and has been honored by the Drama League for her performance.

In the spring 2006 awards season. Grey Gardens has earned 12 Drama Desk nominations including Best Musical (more than any other Off-Broadway production), 7 Outer Critics Circle nominations including Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical (more than any new musical this season) and 5 Lucille Lortel Award nominations, including Best Musical (more than any other musical this season).

The musical has so far won two Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical and Christine Ebersole for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway). Grey Gardens was also the winner of a 2006 Richard Rodgers Production Award, administered by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The world premiere Playwrights Horizons production was extended three times. It was originally slated for Feb. 10-March 26, but lasted to April 30. (It had to make room for PH's next production in the season.)

The score was recorded by PS Classics. The world premiere recording features the entire original Off-Broadway cast and will be released in late summer (date to be announced). For future updates, visit www.psclassics.com.

Complete casting, performance schedule and ticket information for Grey Gardens — including on sale dates for tickets — will be announced in the coming weeks.

The future web address for the musical will be www.greygardensthemusical.com.

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