Grey Gardens is a play based on the true story of two real life characters, Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale, more popularly known as Big Edie and Little Edie. Their discovery makes an interesting story. Documentary film makers, Albert and David Maysles were filming in Long Island in 1973 and they came across a dilapidated old building which they discovered belonged to the two Edies. Not only were they living in poor conditions, with over fifty cats, they were known for their eccentric behavior as well and lived in complete isolation.
The story got more interesting when the Maysles brothers discovered that they were relatives of none other than former First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis. They made their documentary, Grey Gardens, based on the lives of these two eccentric women, in 1975. Big Edie in particular had a very interesting past as she had been a very active part of high society in the pre World War I era.
The play was adapted from the documentary. It is set in two time zones, the first Act is set in 1941, when the estate was at its prime and the second Act shows the mother and daughter duo staying in the dilapidated 28-room mansion in 1973. The musical shows the hilarious as well as heartbreaking story of these two women who were known as Jackie Os most outrageous relatives.
The two characters are brought to life on stage by Christine Ebersole as Big Edie in Act I and Little Edie in Act II, and Mary Louise Wilson as Big Edie in Act II. The two characters in the play deal with a lot of pain and heartbreak, especially Little Edie who gave up her dream of being a stage actress to stay with and take care of her aging and bed-ridden mother. The lives of the two women is portrayed in a comical and lively way, and gives a candid look at the lives of high society people and how easily they can be forgotten by the rest of the world.
The musical opened on the Broadway stage on November 2, 2006 at the Walter Kerr Theater to good reviews. It is directed by Michael Greif with music by Scott Frankel, lyrics by Michael Korie and choreography by Jeff Calhoun. The script for the stage adaptation was written by Doug Wright. The musical has won three Tony Awards. Christine Ebersole won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress, Mary Louise Wilson won it for Best Featured Actress and the Best Costume Design award went to William Ivey Long.
Grey Gardens is running at the Walter Kerr Theater to rave reviews. This comic look at the lives of two eccentric women who were socialites in the past and now reduced to living in isolation with about fifty cats in a huge dilapidated mansion is a big crowd puller. The tickets can be bought at the box office for the best rates. Other options are to order tickets on the phone or order online and have them delivered to you at an extra cost.