What an absolute delight to be working at the Walter Kerr theater these last two days. Grey Gardens, starring Christine Ebersole is in full swing on Broadway after a successful run Off-Broadway. Grey Gardens is based on the unusual but true story of Edith and Edith Bouvier Beale - the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy O'Nassis.
They were an odd pair and lived together as complete recluses for over 20 years. It's a sad story told in two acts.
Act I takes place in 1941 on the evening of little Edie's engagement party where she would have announced her engagement to Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr if it weren't for her mother's meddling. Not able to leave well enough alone, her mother sabotages her engagement by telling Joseph an absolutely scandalous story about little Edie swimming naked at the country club. The Act ends with little Edie running off to New York to pursue a life independent of her mother.
Act II takes place over 30 years later. It opens with little Edie reading an article that describes how Grey Gardens has fallen into disrepair and tells the audience how much she adores her mother. Clearly, she wasn't able to make it on her own in New York and tells the audience that her youthful fancies were cut short because she had to come home and take care of her of big Edie. The two women have developed an unhealthy and bizarre co-dependent relationship in their dire isolation. And their house has become a 28 room litterbox for 52 cats.
The musical is based on a documentary made about the two in the 70's. Shortly after it aired, Jackie O ended up cleaning up and restoring the house for them. Shortly after that, Edith Beale senior passed away, giving lost life back to little Edie. To raise money, little Edie sold the house and pursued a cabaret career. Ultimately she ended up in South Beach, Florida where she died of a heart attack about 3 years ago.
If you are a Kennedy-phile, you absolutely have to see this show.
If you want to offer your support to a good, original Broadway musical than book a ticket now.