Musical Grey Gardens Inspires Third Documentary About Beales

News   Musical Grey Gardens Inspires Third Documentary About Beales The third documentary linked to the eccentric Beales women of East Hampton, NY, is in the works from filmmaker Albert Maysles.
Top: Christine Ebersole as Edie, Below: Mary Louise Wilson as Edith  in Grey Gardens.
Top: Christine Ebersole as Edie, Below: Mary Louise Wilson as Edith in Grey Gardens. Photo by Joan Marcus

An untitled new film about the making of the new Broadway musical Grey Gardens is under way.

The 60-minute film will be the second followup to the 1975 Maysles picture "Grey Gardens," the voyeuristic look at the decline of society ladies Edith and Edie Beales, the respective aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. By the 1970s, they were living in a cat-infested 28-room ruin on Long Island.

Producers Kelly Gonda, Tracey Trench and Maysles Films announced the new project Nov. 6.

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the film is the recently released Maysles companion movie "The Beales of Grey Gardens," featuring previously-unseen outtakes from the original documentary. The picture is now playing at art houses across the country and is to be released on DVD Dec. 6. The market will also see several upcoming books (including a collection of Edie's original writings) and a future Hollywood feature based on the documentary.

The new documentary about the musical "will chronicle the journey from cult documentary to Broadway musical, exploring the original film, the just-opened musical adaptation and the continuing interest in their subjects, Edith Bouvier Beale and her adult daughter 'Little' Edie." Directed by Maysles ("Salesman," "Gimme Shelter") in his signature verite style, "the new documentary will explore the making of the original film, the wildly diverse initial reactions to it, the cult audience that built around it, the actual house then and now, and the creation of the musical from rehearsals to opening night," according to producers. "Maysles will be aided by a treasure trove of materials, including never-before-seen footage from the original film. He's also currently immersed in documenting the creation of the musical by being present each step of the way, and conducting all-new interviews with the musical's cast and creative team."

Lora Nelson and Maureen Ryan will produce for Maysles Films. Kelly Gonda, one of the producers of the new documentary, is president of East of Doheny, which is the lead producer of the musical Grey Gardens.

The original film "Grey Gardens," by brothers Albert & David Maysles, premiered at the 1975 New York Film Festival and is now celebrating the 30th anniversary of its initial theatrical release in 1976.

The musical Grey Gardens opened on Broadway Nov. 2 following a popular Off-Broadway run in the spring. It stars Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole in dual roles (Big Edie in Act One, fiftysomething Little Edie in Act Two) and Tony Award nominee Mary Louise Wilson as haggard Big Edie in Act Two.

The musical won the 2006 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical, a 2006 Richard Rodgers Production Award and was selected as one of the "Ten Best" of the year by "The Best Plays Theater Annual."

For her work in Grey Gardens, Ebersole won a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, an Obie Award, a special citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle and the Drama Leagues 2006 Distinguished Performance of the Year Award.

According to the musical's producers, "Once at the height of society, Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter 'Little' Edie lived together for over twenty years in squalor and almost total isolation. In 1972, their living conditions were exposed in the media, resulting is a series of raids by the Suffolk County Health Department. Jackie Kennedy Onassis convinced her husband Aristotle to pay for a cleaning and partial repair job on the house for her aunt and first cousin. It was during that restoration that the film Grey Gardens was made."

The musical features a book by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife), music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie. The musical is directed by Tony Award nominee Michael Greif (Rent) and has musical staging by Tony Award nominee Jeff Calhoun.

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