Last week, I attended the Los Angeles Premiere of Grey Gardens The Musical at the Ahmanson Theatre in DTLA with my theater loving blogging bestie Stacy Cox. I’ve been wanting to see this show ever since it garnered 10 Tony Award Nominations in 2006, and let me tell you it was well worth the wait!
This production is filled with amazingly talented actors and at the helm is the multi-talented Rachel York best known for her critically acclaimed Broadway performances in “City of Angels,” “Les Misérables,” and “Victor/Victoria” (Drama Desk Award) with Dame Julie Andrews. Her co-star is Betty Buckley, one of the theatre worlds most respected and legendary leading ladies best know for her Tony award winning performance as Grizabella in “Cats”, another Tony Award nomination for “Triumph of Love” and an Olivier Award nomination in London for her performance in “Sunset Boulevard.” So needless to say this show was infused with some of Broadway’s best and brightest stars.
Grey Gardens is haunting and outrageous musical based on the Maysles’ Brother’s iconic documentary about Big Edie and Little Edie Beale Bouvier, the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. This captivating musical, which has newly reimagined by director Michael Wilson, recounts Jackie O’s most eccentric relatives’ fall from glamorous society darlings in the 1940s to notorious recluses living in squalor in their crumbling East Hampton estate in the 1970s.
In my opinion, what makes this musical a captivating standout show are two things: First, the innovative staging which utilizes both live-feed and pre-recorded original footage from the documentary projected onto the sets in order to bring this iconic documentary to life – so clever and it adds so much depth and richness to the storytelling of the show
And second, the diverse, exquisite and authentic acting of Rachel York who brings to life two incredibly different versions of leading characters in the show. Both of these characters and portrayls were so different that it made me question if it was the same actress portraying both of these roles. In the first act, Rachel embodies the aristocratic, polished yet slightly neurotic Big Edie with finesse and elegance
However, in the second act she completely transforms into a totally different, almost unrecognizable eccentric, bold, unstable and captivating Little Edie
Her performances in both these roles were riveting and her acting blew me away, it’s some of the best I have seen in quite some time. And then there was the believable and dysfunctional mother-daughter banter in the second act with Betty Buckley, that really takes you inside the tormented, painful yet intriguing relationship of these dynamic women and their love and dependence on one another. It’s a fascinating ride and I loved every moment of it!
And just adding to the appeal of this wonderful, I caught a glimpse of the legendary Angela Lansbury walking into the theatre before the show. And just before the show started, they played Angela’s pre-recorded announcements and immediately after the audience stood and gave her a standing ovation, such a special moment!
Grey Gardens The Musical is playing at the Ahmanson Theatre in DTLA now thru August 14th, 2016. You can get tickets HERE