Will Grey Gardens Grow in London? Creative Team Has Hope

News   Will Grey Gardens Grow in London? Creative Team Has Hope
A London production and a national tour were mentioned as possibilities for Grey Gardens when the musical was still running in Broadway in spring 2007, but those prospects now look to be vague.

Christine Ebersole in Grey Gardens.
Christine Ebersole in Grey Gardens. Photo by Joan Marcus

That doesn't mean there isn't hope — or that there isn't a wide future life for the quirky musical inspired by the film documentary of the same name.

The lead Broadway producers of the show about the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis no longer own the rights to the Tony Award-nominated script (by Doug Wright) and score (by composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie), so the writers are looking ahead to future productions.

There are no plans for a national tour based on the 2006-07 Broadway production, Frankel told Playbill.com, but Dramatists Play Service, Inc. is handling the show's licensing to stock, amateur, university and resident theatres. Independent productions will start playing in those markets in 2008, Frankel said.

And London? Frankel himself and the Tony Award-winning Christine Ebersole (who played dual roles in the show, snagging the 2007 Tony for Best Actress in a Musical) were in London in recent weeks, talking to commercial and institutional producers and artistic directors about a U.K. life for the cult hit.

Ebersole had earlier expressed hope of reprising her Grey Gardens role(s) in London, and she and Frankel investigated possibilities in the West End and Off-West End. "There was a fair amount of enthusiasm at the prospect of it," Frankel said.

The hope, Frankel told Playbill.com, is that the show's Broadway director Michael Greif (Rent) would be involved in any London run, and that Mary-Louise Wilson would be invited to play aging Edith Bouvier Beale (she also won a Tony doing it) opposite Ebersole's middle-aged dreamer, Edie Beale.

There are various scenarios that could play out, Frankel suggested, mentioning British star casting as a possibility for the role of "Big" Edith.

"No one is a bigger fan of Mary-Louise Wilson than I am," Frankel said. "I would just have a hunch that she would not want to play London, simply because she loves her garden and loves her house in the country — and she has other interests and other projects. We did discuss the very real possibility of putting a name Brit star, well known over there, like a Judi Dench or a Julia MacKenzie, in that part opposite Christine. That might well give it a currency in terms of British box office, and selling it to a less-familiar British public."

Would British audiences "get" the tale of two American society ladies living in squalor?

"On the downside, the documentary is not nearly as well known in the United Kingdom as it is here, even on a cult level," Frankel said. "On the plus side, they certainly have in their culture a frame of reference for dotty women living in moldering country houses, as well as aristocrats running out of money in said houses. That seemed to resonate with them, as well as the Kennedy/Camelot perspective, which still looms large with certain generations over there."

For more information about future licensing for Grey Gardens, visit www.dramatists.com.

Mary-Louise Wilson in <i>Grey Gardens.</i>
Mary-Louise Wilson in Grey Gardens. Photo by Joan Marcus
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