"Thank Heaven You're Here": Grey Gardens Premieres in Japan

By Adam Hetrick
07 Nov 2009

Promotional art for Grey Gardens
Promotional art for Grey Gardens

The Tony-nominated musical Grey Gardens makes its international debut in a Japanese-language production at Tokyo's Theatre Creation beginning Nov. 7.

Amon Miyamoto, a Tony nominee for the 2004 Broadway revival of Pacific Overtures, directs the musical about the infamous East Hampton mother and daughter, that features a score by composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie and a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright.

Grey Gardens will play its Tokyo engagement through Dec. 6 with a mini tour to follow including stops in Osaka and Nagoya in December. Frankel, Korie and Wright are slated to be in attendance for the Japan opening.

Portraying Little Edie Beale are Shinovu Ohtake, with Mitsuko Kusabue as the elder, Big Edie Beale. The cast also features Kanami Ayano (Young Edie), Takuji Kawakubo (Joe Kennedy), Keigo Yoshino (George Gould Strong), David Yano (Brooks), Akihiko Mitsueda (Major Bouvier), Tomoyo Kurosawa/Kurumi Okubo (Jacqueline Bouvier) and Yuka Oshita/Kanon Fujisaki (Lee Bouvier).

Shigeru Yawata serves as musical director, with choreography by Chie Oka, set design by Takeshi Kata, lighting design by Ryuichi Nakawgawa, costume design by Ayako Maeda and wig design by Sakie.

Mariko Kojima, who has also produced Rent, A New Brain and The Spitfire Grill for Japanese audiences, previously spoke with Playbill.com about her latest project: "The documentary has never been aired here in Japan, and no one here knows about Edith & Edie. For that reason, I think we have to approach this musical from a different aspect. We shouldn't care too much about representing the mother and daughter on stage, but to tell a story about a mother and daughter, who have a strong relationship. I think that every mother and daughter has their own and story: They love each other a lot and hate each other a bit. That is universal."

Based on the Maysles brothers 1975 cult documentary, Grey Gardens traces the lives of East Hampton socialites "Big" and "Little" Edie Beale, whose mother-daughter tug of war ultimately finds the eccentric and resilient duo residing in a dilapidated mansion overrun with cats and raccoons.

Grey Gardens first premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in 2006 and subsequently transferred to Broadway where it ran for 307 performances at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Grey Gardens earned a Tony nomination for Best Musical and garnered Tony Awards for leads Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson, as well as for costume designer William Ivey Long.

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