Great Theater & Music

Have seen Grey Gardens twice and love the musical. Mother/daughter dynamics, cat ladies, celebrity, divorce, insanity, the Kennedys, Jackie O.. It’s all here. Smart songs, a flowing, easy to follow book, despite using the flashback device make this show. 

This play centers around the glamorous Beale women and their tumultuous dealings with men, attention and love.  Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (aka the quirky bohemian heiress Big Edie) and her permanently apron-strung namesake (the downright demented Little Edie) as they appear here are based on the cult-favorite Maysles brothers documentary. The first act features a courtship between Little Edie (Jenna Sokolowski), desperate to escape the dominion of her self-absorbed, bohemian mother, and an ambitious Joe Kennedy (Matthew Stucky, milking that famed accent). The retro, meandering melodies of much of the songs come about through the theatrics of Edith (Barbara Walsh) and her live-in gay accompanist George (Bobby Smith, his quip as he leers at Kennedy, “Somewhere in Athens, there is a pedestal missing its statue,” says volumes). Sokolwski fears the histrionics of dame Edith will destroy her engagement, and she is of course proven right.

In addition, the show raises serious points — how much attention does a mother need and how much does she deprive her children when she takes? how traditional does a wife have to be in the mid-twentieth century? how damaging is it to be homosexual male in mid-century New York? how does an adventurous girl retain her virtue or the public appearance thereof in order to “marry well?”

A simple, well-defined stage setting and solid performances served the Studio Theater production in Washington, DC well; although no one can match the career-defining Broadway version for Christine Ebersole


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