I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than going to see the musical version of Grey Gardens at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre. I mean, no matter how screwed up your relationship with your mother might possibly be, there is no way it could be more jacked than that of Big Edie and Little Edie–not if you were able to leave the house, anyway.
The Grey Gardens story has now had many incarnations. It started as a 1975 documentary by the Maysles brothers, about Edith (Big Edie) Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith (Little Edie) Bouvier Beale, aunt and cousin to Jackie O, respectively. By 1973 the Edies had become shut-ins, living in their horrifically, decrepit mansion in the Hamptons. Imagine Jane Austen meets John Waters.
There was also the HBO movie version last year. When I first heard about it, I was super excited. Then I heard Drew Barrymore was playing Little Edie, and wasn’t so sure. But I was wrong; Drew did a very good job. And Jessica Lange was, of course, phenomenal. The drama recreates memorable moments from the documentary, and goes back in time and imagines how these two women got from blue-blooded socialites to eccentrics living in squalor. I loved it.
There is also the Broadway musical version. Again, I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. The modern Broadway musical world feels very cynical to me, just rehashing movies that made money and turning them into ever cheesier spectacles. But this one could work, especially because in Little Edie’s mind she was an entertainer, and actually did go on to have a campy, entertaining career in New York after the Grey Gardens documentary came out. And this is a musical based on a relatively obscure documentary, not Shrek. I’m curious, and excited.
Grey Gardens is having its regional premiere at Le Petit Theatre in a co-production with Southern Rep. Thursdays-Saturdays at 8, and Sundays at 2, through May 23rd. Tickets $29-$45.