Grey Gardens Los Angeles Opening
Conversations with Betty Buckley, Rachel York and more at the Grey Gardens Los Angeles Opening Party
Who could have imagined a standing ovation before the July 13 opening night performance of “Grey Gardens” at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles?
Yet, the minute Angela Lansbury rose from her seat, following her pre-taped, turn-off-your-cellphone announcement, the audience shot to its feet to applaud the five-time Tony Award winner and star of the TV show “Murder, She Wrote.”
Just like the others in the star-studded audience, the actress came to see director Michael Wilson’s take on the Broadway musical about Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Little Edie Beale, aunt and cousin, respectively, to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The mother-daughter duo lived in a grimy, ramshackle, cat-filled East Hampton mansion, for which the play is named.
Among others lending their applause were Vincent Rodriguez III (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Jonathan Del Arco (“Major Crimes”) …
Click here to read my entire story in the fashion/ lifestyle section of the Los Angeles Times, which will let you know who else came to the show and what they and cast members had to say about the Los Angeles production.
If you scroll down, you’ll also find more pictures and as I’m limited on space in the Los Angeles Times, I’ve also included 6 more conversations here with cast members and others.
Note: The play is highly recommended, humorous yet painful to see how the once-wealthy Beales lived out their lives amid the cats and raccoons in their decaying surroundings. Click here to read theater critic Charles McNulty’s review the Los Angeles Times review.
1 – “I love that (Grey Gardens) is a real story and that it doesn’t hold back,” Jonathan Del Arco of “Major Crimes” said.
“Just because it’s a musical, it doesn’t always have to be all happy and shiny. Life isn’t always happy, so musicals don’t always have to be happy.”
2 – “I had the good fortune of studying with Betty Buckley in New York,” said actress Sharon Lawrence of “Rizzoli & Isles,” awaiting the “Grey Gardens” star at the after-party.
“She comes to the work with such a spiritual sense, holistically, from a soul-connected place. I’m now thrilled whenever I get to see her live.”
3 – A veteran of both television (“Mad Men”) and stage, Bryan Batt had high praise for Buckley and York, noting that he’s played opposite them both: Buckley in “Sunset Boulevard” and York in “The Scarlet Pimpernel.”
Batt said he’d previously seen the play in 300 and 900-seat theaters, before appearing in the current 2,000 seat Ahmanson production. “What a testament it is to the writing and storytelling that it works so well in all these different venues,”
4 – As a year has passed since she last appeared in the role, York said she enjoyed the opportunity to take another look at “Little Edie” before this new production.“I submerged myself in books and the video and recording of her,” she said.
“I thought I had every nuance and that I knew everything about her, but it was wonderful to go back and look at the video again from a fresh perspective and notice other tiny nuances that I hadn’t yet focused on.”
5 – “Initially when (director Michael Wilson) called me, I thought it was to play Rachel’s part, but in seconds I realized he meant the part of the old lady,” remembered Buckley. “I said, ‘Oh, Michael, is this the moment when I start playing the older character?’ It was hilarious and we both laughed. Then he asked me to recommend who I wanted to work with and I thought of Rachel York. She is one of the greatest actors/ singers of her generation, and a comedian as well.”
6- Regarding act 1, in which characters include Jacqueline Kennedy and Lee Radziwill as children and Joe Kennedy, Jr., as a young man, Wilson said that although the writer took artistic license, the young Bouvier girls indeed spent their summers at Grey Gardens.
“You know, had your son Joe, Jr. not died in that airplane,” Little Edie was said to say, “I would have married him and it would have been me at the white house now, being first lady, not Jackie.
“Lee (Radziwill) wanted to have a movie about their summers in the Hamptons,” Wilson continued. “She sent (the documentarians, the Maysles brothers) to Grey Gardens. She didn’t know what had happened. She saw the footage and canceled the project, but the Maysles went back.
“Jackie and Lee loved Big Edie. Think about it — what do we remember of Camelot? Our memory of Camelot, of Jack and Jackie, is cultural. Camelot was a Broadway play. Jackie brought poetry and literature and music to the White House. Where did she get all these artistic influences? Big Edie is the one who instilled culture – culture – culture.”
Top photo: Director Michael Wilson with leading ladies Rachel York, left, and Betty Buckley at the party following the Grey Gardens Los Angeles opening (Photo by Ryan Miller/ Capture Imaging)
Third photo: Cast members Josh Young and Sarah Hunt at the party after the Grey Gardens Los Angeles opening at the Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre (Photo by Ryan Miller/ Capture Imaging)
Fourth photo: Cast members Davon Williams and Rachel York at tbe party after the Grey Gardens Los Angeles opening at the Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre (Photo by Ryan Miller/ Capture Imaging)
Fifth photo: From left, cast members Bryan Batt, Rachel York, Simon Jones, Betty Buckley and Davon Williams at the party following the Grey Gardens Los Angeles opening at the Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre (Photo by Ryan Miller/ Capture Imaging)
Sixth photo: Cast members Katie Silverman, left, and Peyton Ella, who play the young Bouvier girls, at the party following the Grey Gardens Los Angeles opening at the Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre (Photo by Ryan Miller/ Capture Imaging)
Seventh photo: Cast member Steven Good with his wife Minea Good at the party following the Grey Gardens Los Angeles opening at the Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre (Photo by Ryan Miller/ Capture Imaging)
Eighth photo: Actor Vincent Rodriguez III of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” at the Grey Gardens opening performance at the Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles (Photo by Ryan Miller/ Capture Imaging)
Ninth photo: Actor Johnathan Del Arco of “Major Crimes” at the Grey Gardens opening performance at the Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre (Photo by Ryan Miller/ Capture Imaging)
Tenth photo: From left, actress Jaclyn Smith, hair stylist José Eber and Grey Gardens star Betty Buckley backstage after the opening in Los Angeles at the Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre (Photo by Ryan Miller/ Capture Imaging)
ALSO IN SOCIETY NEWS L.A.:
Grey Gardens Los Angeles Opening
Published July 17, 2016 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA