BWW Previews: GREY GARDENS at Old Opera House
This weekend, prepare to visit East Hampton and spend "Another Winter in a Summer Town" as the Old Opera House presents the musical Grey Gardens.
Directed by David Porterfield and musically directed by Alison Shafer, Grey Gardens tells the hilarious and often heartbreaking story of Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, the eccentric aunt and cousin of First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. At one time, the two women were members of the highest society and slowly faded to the most notorious recluses in the East Hampton, as immortalized in the 1975 documentary of the same name.
The Grey Gardens cast, in contrast, were quite social and eager to work together in rehearsals at the Old Opera House.
"The three actresses playing the principal characters in Grey Gardens, the roles of Edie Beale and Edith Bouvier Beale, Holly Legg, Karen Heyser-Paone and Brittney Bartlett, are remarkably talented, exceptional performers and well suited for these roles" said Steven Brewer, who plays J.V. "Major" Bouvier / Norman Vincent Peal.
"This is my first time working with the Old Opera House, and because of that I've been able to meet new people and form new relationships, and that has been the most fun!" said Brittney Bartlett, who plays Young "Little" Edie Beale. "The people are so fun and nice and I really look forward to rehearsal every day. Also the music is so much fun to dance and listen to" said Caroline Brewer on playing Lee Bouvier.
"I loved working with some new faces and old. Each time we came to rehearsal, you could see the layers of each character beginning to take shape" said Ed Conn, who plays George Gould Strong.
The real life historical figures greatly influenced how the cast members portrayed their characters.
"The characters in Grey Gardens are based on real people, some that were captured on film in the 1975 documentary of the same name. So, many of our patrons will be familiar with the story of the individuals portrayed in Grey Gardens. There was an abundance of background information to tap and study as we prepared, but that also means that we must be faithful to the history" said Steven Brewer.
"Bringing these real characters to life and being based on the documentary means you're only allowed so much leeway" said Conn
"Playing someone who actually existed rather than a fictional character is challenging. I've done a lot of research on "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale, and I've tried to adopt her mannerisms, dialect and physical carriage. Even more difficult is trying to get into her head and translate that through my acting to the audience. Since Holly Legg plays my character's mother in the first act and my character at an older age in the second act, she and I had to develop a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship, as well as work on portraying the same person at different periods of her life" said Bartlett
The cast is eager to display their recreation of this famous family for an audience this weekend.
"The cast, crew, and production team have worked so very hard on this incredibly difficult yet rewarding show and we are so excited to share it!" said Bartlett.
"It's not your traditional book- musical. This show really tugs at one's emotions- you'll be laughing one minute, and the next you'll be in tears" said Conn. "The show is historical but fun at the same time" said Caroline Brewer
"The music is complex, difficult to learn and perform, but absolutely lovely to listen too. The lyrics and the book are incredibly clever and accurate; the entire second act is almost completely straight out of the documentary. Conversations that these women actually had are replicated and put to music" added Bartlett.
"The story is historical in nature, but constantly keeps the audience engaged as it shifts effortlessly from being quite funny to elegantly charming to seriously dramatic. It is a full evening of entertainment that will not disappoint" said Steven Brewer
The Grey Gardens cast also features Karen Heyser-Paone as Edith Bouvier Beale, Holly Legg as "Little" Edie Beale / Edith Bouvier Beale, Eric Jones as Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr., Rachel Jackson as Jacqueline "Jackie" Bouvier and Everett "Donnie" Cruse as Brooks Jr. / Sr. Grey Gardens runs Friday, April 28 at 8:00 PM, Saturday, April 29 at 8:00 PM, Sunday, April 30 at 2:30 PM, Thursday, May 4 at 7:30 PM, Friday, May 5 at 8:00 PM, Saturday, May 6 at 8:00 PM and Sunday May 7 at 2:30 PM at the Old Opera House, 204 N. George St., Charles Town, WV. Tickets are $22.00 for adults, $19.00 for students and seniors and $15.00 for childre. For more information, please visit http://www.oldoperahouse.org/