It was recently announced that July 29 would mark the last performance for Mary Louise Wilson, who won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Edith Bouvier Beale, the weathered Act Two matriarch of Grey Gardens. At the time of that announcement — June 28 — it seemed the musical would continue at least through the conclusion of co-star Christine Ebersole's contract, which runs through the fall. Ebersole was also a Tony Award winner for her work in dual roles: the spotlight-hungry Edith Bouvier Beale in Act One and the nonconformist "Little" Edie Beale in Act Two.
Producers have now announced that the musical will shutter July 29.
In a statement Kelly Gonda, president of East of Doheny, the lead producer of the musical, said, "Grey Gardens is a great work of art that will have a long life beyond this Broadway run. Everyone in the Grey Gardens family is proud that we were able to bring this unique show to Broadway – the first-ever musical to be made from a documentary. We are honored and thrilled to have received rapturous reviews, ecstatic audiences and award recognition. We're happy the show was preserved with a new cast album and filmed as the subject of a soon-to-be released documentary by the legendary original filmmaker, Albert Maysles himself.
"We always knew that Grey Gardens faced an uphill challenge during the summer months. And so we made the difficult decision to end our run on July 29 with our incomparable original cast. Still basking from the glow of our Tony Award wins and the recent surge in attendance, the show is able to go out on top.
"This production of Grey Gardens is a tribute to the Beales themselves, and we're especially proud of having helped make their dream come true. At long last these two incredible, indomitable women have been celebrated as the performers they always wanted to be. And while we're all sad to see this beautiful production close, we'll look forward to keeping their dream alive with future productions and the new documentary. Finally, I must say that it was a real pleasure, both personally and professionally, to work with everyone involved with the Broadway production of Grey Gardens, including the creative team, the cast, the crew and everyone else responsible for the welcome we enjoyed at The Walter Kerr." Following a sold-out world premiere in spring 2006 at Playwrights Horizons, Grey Gardens — by librettist Doug Wright, lyricist Michael Korie and composer Scott Frankel — opened on Broadway Nov. 2, 2006, at the Walter Kerr.
Based on the 1975 documentary "Grey Gardens" (by David Maysles, Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer & Susan Froemke – a Maysles Brothers Films Inc. Production), the show explores the broken dreams of socialite mother and daughter Edith and daughter Edie Beale, the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier. Michael Greif directs a cast that includes Ebersole in the dual role of Edith (circa 1940 in Act One) and daughter Edie (circa 1973 in Act Two), Tony nominee Mary Louise Wilson (as aging Edith in Act Two), plus John McMartin as both "Major" Bouvier and Norman Vincent Peale; Matt Cavenaugh as both Joe Kennedy, Jr. and Jerry; Erin Davie as Young "Little" Edie Beale; Kelsey Fowler as Lee Bouvier; Sarah Hyland as Jacqueline Bouvier; Michael Potts as Brooks Sr. and Brooks Jr.; and Bob Stillman as Gould.
Here's how the producers tout Grey Gardens: "Not since Mama Rose and Gypsy has there been a mother/daughter act as hilarious, as heartbreaking and as utterly unforgettable as Edith and Edie Beale — Jackie Kennedy's most outrageous relatives — in Broadway's acclaimed musical smash Grey Gardens. From the grandeur of an East Hampton high society party in 1941 to the sensational tabloid headlines that rocked the Kennedy clan in 1973, Grey Gardens is scandalously entertaining. This witty and passionate ride features Christine Ebersole's already-legendary performance and breaks new ground as the first musical ever based on a documentary. Step into the world of Grey Gardens and see the other side of Camelot."
In addition to the awards bestowed on Christine Ebersole last season, the musical's many honors over the past year include: the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical; both a Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance and the Actors Equity Foundation's Richard Seff Award to Mary Louise Wilson for her performance; a 2006 Richard Rodgers Production Award, administered by the American Academy of Arts and Letters; being named one of ten best in "Best Plays" for the 2005-2006 season (the only musical cited); the ASCAP Foundation's Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award for composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie; The Frederick Loewe Award for Dramatic Composition for Frankel; an Obie Award for set designer Allen Moyer; and three 2007 Tony Awards (for Ebersole, Wilson and costume designer William Ivey Long).
The Broadway cast recording, produced by multiple Grammy Award winner Steven Epstein (The Light in the Piazza), was recently released on PS Classics.
Producers previously announced that Ebersole will re-create her Tony-winning performance for the musical's London debut during the 2007-08 season. The musical's producers are also in discussions about the possibility of presenting the show in U.S. engagements across the country. No details, however, have been announced for either a London production or U.S. tour.
Tickets for the remaining Broadway performances 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.