Playwrights Horizons Will Stage Musical Grey Gardens, With Two Broadway Divas Among the Ruins

News   Playwrights Horizons Will Stage Musical Grey Gardens, With Two Broadway Divas Among the Ruins Grey Gardens: A New Musical, by librettist Doug Wright, composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie, will be one of four world premieres in the 2005-06 season of Playwrights Horizons, the Off-Broadway company announced.

Tony winner Christine Ebersole will star in Grey Gardens
Tony winner Christine Ebersole will star in Grey Gardens Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Michael Greif (Rent ) will direct the musical inspired by the creepy cult film documentary about relatives of Jacqueline Bouvier living in a squalid Long Island mansion. Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole (of the recent 42nd Street and Broadway's current Steel Magnolias) and Mary Louise Wilson (Cabaret, Full Gallop) will star as daughter and mother Edie and Edith Bouvier Beale.

Wright won the Pulitzer Prize for I Am My Own Wife, which began at PH prior to its Tony Award-winning run on Broadway. Composer Frankel is known as a musical director for Broadway's Falsettos and Off-Broadway's Putting It Together. Korie collaborated on the opera Harvey Milk, and is working with composer Lucy Simon on the new "Dr. Zhivago" musical.

Additional casting for the PH Mainstage production will be announced. The 1976 film "Grey Gardens," a Maysles Brothers Films Inc. Production, directed by David and Albert Maysles, was recently released on DVD. The film shows the dissipated Edith Bouvier Beale (age 79) and daughter Edie (age 57) in their decaying 28-room East Hampton home. Edith was aunt and Edie was cousin to Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

"Facing an uncertain future, Edith Bouvier Beale and her adult daughter, 'Little' Edie, are forced to revisit their storied past and come to terms with it – for better, and for worse," according to PH production notes.

In addition to the previously announced New York premiere of Fran's Bed, written and directed by James Lapine and starring Mia Farrow (starting Sept. 2 on the Mainstage); the world premiere of Keith Bunin's The Busy World Is Hushed, to be directed by Mark Brokaw on the Mainstage; and the New York premiere of Christopher Durang's Miss Witherspoon, directed by Emily Mann (a PH Mainstage co-production with McCarter Theatre), Playwrights Horizons' 35th season will also include the March 2006 world premiere of David Marshall Grant's Pen, directed by Will Frears and starring J. Smith Cameron, plus the world premiere of Sarah Schulman's Manic Flight Reaction directed by Trip Cullman (both works will appear in the intimate Peter Jay Sharp Theater). Pen, from the author of Off-Broadway's Snakebit and Current Events, begins March 23, 2006, and is billed this way: "Confined to a wheelchair, a controlling mother (J. Smith-Cameron) holds tightly to her son by influencing his enrollment in a nearby college, while her ex-husband tries to spring the boy loose. Backed into a corner, the young man makes a choice that unleashes a series of mysterious events, forcing a broken family to confront its unresolved wounds. Pen is a sly, perceptive new play about finding love, losing control, and making the ultimate sacrifice."

Sarah Schulman is the author of eight novels including "The Child" (forthcoming from Carroll and Graff) and three nonfiction books (most recently "Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS and the Marketing of Gay America"). Previous plays include Carson McCullers (Sundance Theater Lab, Playwright Horizons, directed by Marion McClinton) and The Burning Deck (La Jolla Playhouse, starring Diane Venora).

Her new work, Manic Flight Reaction, beginning Oct. 13, is billed this way: "Struggling to settle – at the last minute – into normalcy, a middle-aged professor must confront the demons of her idealistic past when her daughter learns one of her mother's past liaisons is the wife of the leading presidential candidate. Manic Flight Reaction is a razor-edged comedy about abandonment, the intrusion of mass-market media, and the need for faith in goodness, despite the odds."

Additional casting for all six productions will be announced in the coming weeks.

Subscriptions to Playwrights Horizons' 2005-2006 season are currently available. For information, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or visit www.playwrightshorizons.org.

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Under the leadership of artistic director Tim Sanford and managing director Leslie Marcus, "is a writer's theater dedicated to the support and development of contemporary American playwrights, composers and lyricists, and to the production of their new work. In its 34 years, Playwrights Horizons has presented the work of more than 350 writers and has received numerous awards and honors."

Notable productions include four Pulitzer Prize winners: Doug Wright's I Am My Own Wife (2004 Tony Award, Best Play), Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles, Alfred Uhry's Driving Miss Daisy and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George, as well as Lynn Nottage's Fabulation (2005 Obie Award for Playwriting), Craig Lucas' Small Tragedy (2004 Obie Award, Best American Play), Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero and more.

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