It’s 1973. The weathered clapboard walls of Grey Gardens, a society family’s home in the exclusive East Hamptons fill the small stage at Vintage …
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It’s 1973. The weathered clapboard walls of Grey Gardens, a
society family’s home in the exclusive East Hamptons fill the small
stage at Vintage Theater.
In a brief prologue, the audience hears scuffling. Binoculars
peer out the windows, while a shrill voice is heard. A missing
record is found and disoriented, frail-looking Big Edie (Deborah
Persoff) emerges and sits, talking about the cats (there were 52
strays and a few raccoons found in the house when authorities
Switch to 1941 and walls of the cleverly-designed set by Peggy
Morgan-Stenmark are opened to reveal a classy parlor with grand
Its the day of young Edie Bouvier’s engagement party and her
overpowering mother Edith (Megan Van de Hay) is preparing one of
her dreaded vocal recitals with help from hard-drinking “permanent
pianist” George Gould Strong (Craig Bond, who also ably directed
this regional premier).
The girl is to marry Joseph Patrick Kennedy (James O’Hagen
Murphy) — yes those Kennedys — who is already being groomed for
national office by his father. All is not well in this
mother-daughter relationship as Edith implies that her daughter,
portrayed by Maggie Sczekan, has behaved badly, which might cause
problems for an ambitious politician.
Also on the scene are forceful grandfather Major Bouvier (Ken
Street) and young cousins Jacqueline “Jackie” Bouvier (Ellie
Schwartz) and Lee Bouvier (Isabelle Sabbah). He advises the girls
to “Keep your eyes on the bal l— marry well” and shows his
disapproval of Edith’s gay friend Gould, while commenting that her
husband has an apartment and mistress in the city. Walls close and
Act I ends. We imagine a disastrous party.
As Act II begins, the accomplished Van de Hay, who really owns
this production, sings of her “Revolutionary Costume for Today,” as
her once-chic outfit is held together with safety pins and she
sports a strange scarf-like headgear. Persoff as Big Edie looks
even more disheveled and spend most of Act II in her bed upstairs.
The once-elaborate parlor is strewn with cat food cans and
While you can’t actually smell it, one certainly wrinkles the
nose and withdraws emotionally from this pair. Murphy reappears
here as Jerry, who tries to help them, although it seems
impossible. Tom Auclair plays Brooks, the servant in 1941 and his
son, Brooks Jr., the gardener, in 1971.
Conversations are in song at times in this striking work by Doug
Wright, Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, which is based on a
documentary about the two dysfunctional elderly women, relatives of
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, found living amidst cats and
refuse at a formerly exclusive address.
Vintage Theatre is to be congratulated for mounting the first
Denver production of a difficult and striking theatrical work.
Try to see it before June 12.
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