Saturday, January 13, 2007

Grey Gardens

The revised Broadway version has made some improvements on the off-Broadway show but the glaring problem has not been solved: the first act doesn't belong with the second. Although the supporting cast is engaging, and there's one lovely ballad ("Will You?"), the first act (which takes place when the Beales were vital and social) is inconsequential filler. It provides contrast to the second act, when the women are alarmingly enmeshed and dysfunctional, but it doesn't adequately illuminate the co-dependent dynamics that get them there. The reason to see the show is its second act, a musical theatre character study in which Christine Ebersole is giving one of those rare can't-miss performances: even if you haven't seen the Grey Gardens documentary and don't marvel at Ebersole's dead-on mimicry, you'll still be moved by her remarkable performance which has not a trace of condescension in it.
Note: At the show I saw, Dale Soules was on, convincingly, for Mary Louise Wilson.

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