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Arts and Culture News

A Musical Trip to 'Grey Gardens'

Sara Gettelfinger and Christine Ebersole in a scene from 'Grey Gardens.'
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Sara Gettelfinger and Christine Ebersole in a scene from 'Grey Gardens.'

In 1973, filmmakers Albert and David Maysles visited Grey Gardens, a dilapidated, 28-room mansion on Long Island, to shoot a documentary about two eccentric women. They were relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: Edith Bouvier Beale, or "Big Edie," and her daughter, "Little Edie" Beale. The two were living with more than 50 cats in relative squalor -- bickering, dancing and singing -- when the Maysles showed up.

The documentary became a cult favorite. A new off-Broadway musical based on Grey Gardens opens Tuesday at Playwrights Horizons in New York. The show's three creators are composer Scott Frankel, lyricist Michael Korie and Doug Wright, who wrote the book. They talk about the production with Liane Hansen.

Big Edie was 80 years old when she died in 1977. Little Edie sold the Grey Gardens estate in 1979 and moved to Florida. Before Little Edie died in 2002 at the age of 84, she gave her blessing to the Grey Gardens musical.

This story was produced by Elaine Heinzman.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Christine Ebersole, this time as Little Edie, lounges. Mary Louise Wilson is playing Big Edie.
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Christine Ebersole, this time as Little Edie, lounges. Mary Louise Wilson is playing Big Edie.
Ebersole and Wilson.
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Ebersole and Wilson.
Ebersole, as Big Edie in Act 1, sings to actresses portraying a younger Lee Bouvier Radziwill (Audrey Twitchell) and a young Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (Sarah Hyland).
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Ebersole, as Big Edie in Act 1, sings to actresses portraying a younger Lee Bouvier Radziwill (Audrey Twitchell) and a young Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (Sarah Hyland).
Gettelfinger, as Little Edie, receives an important telegram in Act 1, on the day of what is to be a celebration of her engagement to Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr. (portrayed by Matt Cavenaugh, third from left).
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Gettelfinger, as Little Edie, receives an important telegram in Act 1, on the day of what is to be a celebration of her engagement to Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr. (portrayed by Matt Cavenaugh, third from left).