When I heard that there was to be a local Melbourne production of the Broadway musical “Grey Gardens” I became very excited. I love the documentary it is based on and was an admirer of the telemovie that starred Drew Barrymore & Jessica Lange. Also I have seen a pirated copy of the Broadway show. I am a HUGE Grey Gardens fan.
But I was baffled as to who would be cast in the roles of Big Edie & Little Edie Bouvier Beale???
For those who are unaware of the story, Big Edie and her daughter Little Edie were the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. The two women lived together at a house called Grey Gardens in the Hamptons for decades, with very little money, living in squalor and isolation. A 1975 documentary made by David & Albert Maysles revealed the everyday lives of the codependent mother & daughter socialites, it became a cult classic and was rediscovered a few years back spawning the musical and telemovie.
In the musical the first act imagines the early years of the women and explores the reasoning behind the later years of their lives. The second act features the later years and includes the documentary makers as characters. The actress who plays Big Edie in the first act goes on to play Little Edie in the second. It is the role of a lifetime for an actress. The part of Big Edie in the second act is also a meaty part. So who has been cast you may ask?
As Little Edie we have the wonderful Pamela Rabe, arguably a first lady of the Melbourne theatre scene, and as Big Edie stage veteran and an immense talent – Nancye Hayes. Inspired casting I say – I can’t wait to see it.
The Production Company (Melbourne’s equivalent of NY’s Encores series) will present the musical at the Playhouse Theatre for 12 performances November 25 to Dec 4.