Grey Gardens

I was back at Lincoln Center Thursday, this time to watch a video of the musical Grey Gardens. I've been curious about this show for a while. I saw the wonderful, sad, beautiful documentary from the early 1970s that the show is based on a few years ago, and I couldn't imagine how it could be a musical.

It is very cool. I don't know if it's something New Line will ever produce. Right now, I'd say probably not, but I've learned to never say never.

As it turns out Act II of the show is based on the documentary about these two women, both relatives of Jackie Kennedy, who live in a decaying mansion in East Hampton. In the film, the two talk directly to the filmmakers, so here they talk to the audience. The relationship between the two women is remarkable -- they clearly love and need each other very much, but they also do their level best to tear down and humiliate each other. Very complicated stuff.

Act I is the backstory, set in the early 1940s, on the day of the daughter's engagement party, where we see the seeds of the connection and the destruction to come, as the mother drives the fiance away and ruins her daughter's chance to escape this complex emotional web.

Not a happy show. Not super tuneful songs. But good, solid theatre. I'd like to see it live, though I don't think I want to work on it. It's so depressing with no real redemption or hope at the end. And those flat Kennedy accents would be tough to get right. Plus, there are two kids in the cast, and I really hate working with kids.

I'm just sayin'...

Still, well worth seeing. I love how endless the possibilities are in contemporary musical theatre. Literally nothing is off limits. Even documentaries.

Long Live the Musical!


Andrea | November 18, 2010 at 8:23 PM

I got to see this a few years ago. Lovely to read your thoughts about it, Scott. I loved the doc. too, and I did find myself smiling and admiring these two and crying for them at the same time -- the doc and the show.

Keep it comin' baby!!!