The European premiere of Grey Gardens, a musical based on the cult classic documentary, was brought to London by Southwark Playhouse. The book was written by Doug Wright with music from Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie. Starring Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell this production was a sure- fire hit for fans of the movie and many more.
Grey Gardens is based on the documentary about mother and daughter, Edith and Edie Bouvier Beale, two New York socialites, relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy, who are no longer wealthy but are still living in their once grand home in complete squalor, along with a number of cats and several raccoons in the attic.
The musical adds a first act which imagines the two women when they were young before they reach old age which is how we met them in the film. In the first act Jenna Russell plays the elder Bouvier with Rachel Anne Rayham playing the younger one. This act imagines what it was like for them when they were 24 and 47 respectively, but it is the second half that is the real heart of this piece.
Aside from ‘Around the World’, the music doesn’t really stand out, instead it is the performance of Jenna Russell that steals the show. She nails the American drawl of the Bouviers’ and brings a real star quality to the show, proving that she is only going from strength to strength in an already impressive career.
We are very glad this show was finally brought to London having premiered off-Broadway ten years ago. Stunning performances brought to life this bleak yet heartwarming story.
Highlight of the show – Jenna Russell’s turn as the young Edie. She made the character her own and stole the show in the process.