Packing Her Cake, Corn and Tony, Wilson Will Exit Grey Gardens July 29

News   Packing Her Cake, Corn and Tony, Wilson Will Exit Grey Gardens July 29 Mary Louise Wilson, who won a Tony Award June 10 for her turn as Edith Bouvier Beale, the weathered Act Two matriarch of the musical Grey Gardens, will exit the musical at the end of her contract July 29.

Tony Award winner Mary Louise Wilson in Grey Gardens.
Tony Award winner Mary Louise Wilson in Grey Gardens.

The actress has been with the show for three years, including developmental stages prior to its 2006 Off-Broadway world premiere, which led to the current Broadway run.

The 2007 Tony Awards for Wilson (as Best Featured Actress in a Musical) and co-star Christine Ebersole (as Best Actress in a Musical) indicated to audiences that they were the couple to see this season on Broadway — even though mother and daughter Edith and Edie Beale aren't a traditional romantic pairing.

In the press room at this year's Tony Awards, Wilson called the onstage union "the only really ideal relationship I've ever had with another actor."

Since the Tonys, business has soared for the show at the Walter Kerr Theatre: The week ending June 3, the theatre was at 64.7 percent of capacity, but the week after the Tonys (June 11-17) it was at 87.3 percent followed by 85.9 percent (week ending June 24).

Casting is ongoing for the role of Big Edith Beale, who famously sings the no-nonsense songs "The Cake I Had" and "Jerry Likes My Corn," an ode to the handyman who hangs around the dilapidated mansion shared by the over-the-hill, hermetic relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The musical's authors Scott Frankel (composer), Michael Korie (lyricist) and Doug Wright (librettist) have said the voices and personalities created by the lead actresses were vital to their shaping of the material. Ebersole and Wilson were in the show's first workshop in late 2004 at The Sundance Institute at White Oak in Florida.

For her performance in Grey Gardens Wilson was also nominated for Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Lortel awards and was honored by the Drama League.

Ebersole will continue with Grey Gardens for the run of her contract, which goes into fall 2007.

After that time, and as previously announced, she will re-create her Tony-winning performance for the musical's London debut during the 2007-08 season. London partners, dates and additional casting will be officially announced in the coming months. The musical's producers are also in discussions about the possibility of presenting the show in U.S. engagements across the country.

The musical is a fictionalized account of the lives of socialites Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie Beale, the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. It's based on the legendary 1975 film documentary "Grey Gardens" by David Maysles, Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer & Susan Froemke – a Maysles Brothers Films Inc. Production. Theatregoers who know the picture have been shocked to see the actresses not just mimick, but embody the strange creatures from the film.

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The musical also won a 2007 Tony for Best Costume Design of a Musical (William Ivey Long).

Wilson starred in Full Gallop, a play about the legendary Diana Vreeland co-authored by Wilson with Mark Hampton. Her performance won both an Obie and a Drama Desk Award and the play has since been produced across the country, as well as in London, Australia, South Africa, South America, France, Italy and Uruguay. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Fraulein Schneider in the Broadway revival of Cabaret. Her many other Broadway credits include Show Boat, Fools, Prelude to a Kiss, Alice in Wonderland, Philadelphia Story, The Royal Family, Gypsy, The Women and Flora the Red Menace.

Michael Greif (Rent) directs. Musical staging is by Jeff Calhoun (Big River, Grease!).

The original Broadway cast recording of Grey Gardens (preserving Wilson's salty work) is on the PS Classics label.

The cast also features five-time Tony Award nominee John McMartin as both Major Bouvier and Norman Vincent Peale; Matt Cavenaugh as both Joe Kennedy, Jr. and Jerry; Theatre World Award winner Erin Davie as Young "Little" Edie Beale; Kelsey Fowler as Lee Bouvier; Sarah Hyland as Jacqueline Bouvier; Michael Potts (Lennon) as Brooks Sr. and Brooks Jr.; and two-time Tony Award nominee Bob Stillman as Gould.

Grey Gardens plays Tuesday evenings at 7 PM, Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 PM with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM.

Tickets are available by going online to www.telecharge.com, calling (212) 239-6200 or visiting The Walter Kerr Theatre box office (219 West 48th Street). Balcony seats are only available in person at the box office.

Visit www.greygardensthemusical.com.