Review Roundup: Bay Street's GREY GARDENS, Starring Betty Buckley & Rachel York - UPDATED!

Bay Street Theater presents Tony Award winner Betty Buckley and Drama Desk Award winner Rachel York as Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale in GREY GARDENS, the musical, which opened August 4 and runs through August 30; with book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie. Michael Wilson directs.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times: ...the potent emotional undertow of this production, directed by Michael Wilson, has nothing to do with geographical proximity and everything to do with the formidable Betty Buckley, whose determinedly cheerful, thoroughly heart-bruising Edith will win you over, pull you under and cast you out to sea...The first act, set in 1941, gives us an Edith (Ms. York) who is glamorous, tuneful and forever banging against the bars of her gilded cage, which keeps her in East Hampton when what she really wants is a stage...York does a fine job of tracing a through line from this Edith to the willfully myopic woman she will become decades later, with Grey Gardens decaying around her...Ms. Buckley goes her own way with the elderly Edith...Her cane and halting walk notwithstanding, she radiates vitality.

Melissa Giordano, BroadwayWorld.com: Leading the stellar company filled with Broadway veterans is legendary Tony award winner Betty Buckley and Drama Desk award winner Rachel York portraying mother Edith Bouvier Beale and daughter Edie Beale. They complement each other so well even nailing the Long Island accent. Ms. York particularly emulated "Little" Edie well and Ms. Buckley performs her numbers exquisitely and is multifaceted as Edith. These incredible women give astounding performances.

Steve Parks, Newsday: "Grey Gardens" comes home. The good news: Bay Street's East End premiere features the best Edie troika this critic has seen. We're not saying Rachel York outdoes Tony-winning Christine Ebersole or that Betty Buckley outshines Mary Louise Wilson's Broadway performance. Tipping the scales in favor of Bay Street's production, unevenly directed by Michael Wilson, is Sarah Hunt as young, engagement-radiant Edie.

Lee Meyer, Dan's Paper: Together, York and Buckley are a gangbusters pair with crackling chemistry. Hunt gives a powerful and intense performance as Young Little Edie, delivering the showstopping "Daddy's Girl" with a volatility that foreshadows the character's eventual descent from debutante to outcast. McGillin and Doyle are also standouts in the supporting roles; Doyle is particularly impressive, playing the straight-laced Joseph Kennedy in Act I and the sweet, misguided street kid Jerry Torre in Act II.

Dawn Watson, Sagharbor Online: Ms. Buckley, a commanding actor with stage presence to spare, is simply marvelous as Big Edie. And Ms. York, who is in practically every scene of the show, is absolutely astounding, astonishing and amazing. I could go on and on with the superlatives and still not communicate the power of her performance.

Lorraine Dusky, 27 East: While praising Ms. York to the high heavens, let us note that Sarah Hunt as Young Edie is no slouch, and fills the role with panache. Also excellent and unreservedly fey is the pianist-in-residence, Howard McGillin as George Gould Strong, accompanying and entertaining Big Edie as her marriage crumbles in another country called Manhattan. Mr. McGillin may be familiar from his record-setting run as the title lead in "Phantom of the Opera." Here, he oozes slightly smarmy charm while playing a mean piano.

Patrick Christiano, Theater Life: Rachel York is very funny now playing the 56 year old Little Edie, who has transformed into an outspoken madcap rebel. Bette Buckley, a grand dame of the Theater and legendary singer/ actress/performer is now the elderly Big Edie. She is both compelling and witty capturing the wacky spirit of their peculiar relationship. Her stunning voice is in great form especially on the song "The Cake I Had." She is also marvelous and playful with York as on the song "Jerry Likes My Corn."

Kurt Wenzel, East Hampton Star: After its slow start, this version of "Grey Gardens" becomes everything it should be, though some fans of musicals should be forewarned: It has its laughs and up-tempo numbers, but this show is not a feel-good piece of summer fluff. Like the work of Stephen Sondheim, "Grey Gardens" opts for intelligence and ambiguity over frivolity. It has bigger things in mind, and its themes of how family and loyalty can become a trap are universal. It is, in my estimation, a highly underrated show, and with this fine cast and Rachel York's knockout performance, it makes for a terrific night of serious summer musical theater.

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