“Grey Gardens” The Musical opens at CTG/Ahmanson Theatre tonight. Directed by Michael Wilson, performances of the bittersweet story continue through August 14.
Rachel York and Betty Buckley lead the cast, with, in alphabetical order, Bryan Batt (AMC’s “Mad Men”), Peyton Ella, Sarah Hunt, Simon Jones, Katie Silverman, Davon Williams and Josh Young. The cast also includes Olivia Curry, Rogelio Douglas Jr., Steven Good, Melina Kalomas, Michelle London and Rebecca Spencer.
The book for “Grey Gardens” The Musical is by Doug Wright, with music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie. The scenic design is by Jeff Cowie, costumes are by Ilona Somogyi, lighting is by Howell Binkley, sound is by Jon Weston, projections are by Jason H. Thompson, wig design is by Paul Huntley and casting is by Beth Lipari. Hope Clarke is the choreographer, Kevin Stites is the music director, Charles Swan is the associate director/choreographer and the production stage manager is Robert Bennett.
Wilson is bringing new elements into this production, saying, “Being at the Ahmanson has given us the opportunity to expand the scope of our production, incorporating new cast members and production elements. Utilizing both live-feed and pre-recorded footage, we bring the making of the Maysles’ iconic documentary more into focus within the musical’s story telling.”
Set in East Hampton, New York, “Grey Gardens” The Musical tells the story of Big Edie and Little Edie, the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and their journey from glamorous aristocrats in the 1940s to notorious recluses in the 1970s, living in a crumbling house filled with memories and cats.
“Grey Gardens” The Musical received 10 Tony Award nominations when it premiered on Broadway in 2006. Ben Brantley of The New York Times said of that production, “‘Grey Gardens’ is … an experience no passionate theatregoer should miss.” Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said, “‘Grey Gardens’ is more than a unique and unmissable musical: it’s a gift!” David Rooney of Variety said, “This spellbinding account of American fallen royalty is as boldly odd, original and beguiling as its subjects.”
Rachel York is a dynamic and versatile actress, singer, dancer and comedienne, best known for her critically acclaimed Broadway performances in “City of Angels,” “Les Misérables,” “Victor/Victoria” (Drama Desk Award) with Dame Julie Andrews, “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” “Sly Fox” with Richard Dreyfuss, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and recently the new musical “Disaster!” Previously at the Ahmanson, Ms. York starred as Reno Sweeney in the national tour of “Anything Goes.” Also on tour, she created the role of Cruella de Vil in “The 101 Dalmatians Musical,” starred as Guenevere in “Camelot” and portrayed Lilli Vanessi/Kate in “Kiss Me, Kate” (U.S. tour and London’s West End). Off-Broadway she starred in “The Best Is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman,” Stephen Sondheim’s “Putting It Together” (Drama Desk nomination), “Dessa Rose” (Drama Desk nomination) as well as NYC Encores! acclaimed productions of “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” and “Little Me.” Among her favorite regional productions are “Ragtime,” “The King and I” and “Turn of the Century” opposite Jeff Daniels. Ms. York turned heads with her courageous portrayal of Lucille Ball in the CBS movie “Lucy.” She has also appeared on several popular TV series including “Power,” “Hannah Montana,” “Frasier,” “Numb3rs,” and will be featured in the upcoming film “It Had To Be You.”
Betty Buckley, who has been called “The Voice of Broadway,” is one of theatre’s most respected and legendary leading ladies. She is an actress/singer whose career spans theatre, film, television and concert halls around the world. She was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame for 2012. She won a Tony Award for “Cats,” received her second Tony Award nomination for “Triumph of Love” and an Olivier Award nomination in London for her performance in “Sunset Boulevard,” which she repeated to more rave reviews on Broadway. Her other Broadway credits include “1776,” “Pippin,” “Song And Dance,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” and “Carrie.” She has starred in many off-Broadway productions including “The Old Friends” for which she received a 2014 Drama Desk nomination. Her film credits include M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening,” Brian de Palma’s “Carrie,” Bruce Beresford’s “Tender Mercies,” Roman Polanski’s “Frantic,” Woody Allen’s “Another Woman” and Lawrence Kasdan’s “Wyatt Earp.” She is currently shooting “Split,” a new film directed by Shyamalan in which she is co-starring with James McAvoy. Her numerous TV credits include the series “Oz” for HBO and four seasons starring as Abby on “Eight is Enough.” She has received two Emmy nominations, and she has recorded 16 CDs, receiving two Grammy nominations. Her latest CD “Ghostlight” was produced by T Bone Burnett.
Michael Wilson directed the 2013 Broadway revival of “The Trip to Bountiful,” which garnered a Best Actress Tony Award for Cicely Tyson. This production was later presented at the Ahmanson Theatre. He received 2015 DGA and Image Award nominations for his direction of the Lifetime/Ostar production of “Bountiful,” which was nominated for two Emmys including Outstanding Television Movie. He received Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his direction of Horton Foote’s “The Orphans’ Home Cycle” at Signature Theatre. His other Broadway productions include Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man,” “Dividing the Estate,” “Enchanted April” and “Old Acquaintance.” Off-Broadway his productions include “Talley’s Folly,” and also “The Old Friends” with Betty Buckley. He recently finished work on his first independent motion picture, “Showing Roots,” starring Maggie Grace, Uzo Aduba, Elizabeth McGovern, Adam Brody and Cicely Tyson.
Tickets for “Grey Gardens” The Musical are available by calling (213) 972-4400 or online at CenterTheatreGroup.org, or by visiting the Center Theatre Group box office at the Ahmanson Theatre. The Ahmanson Theatre is located at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles, 90012