Grey Gardens
Cover of Broadway original cast recording of Grey Gardens
MusicScott Frankel
LyricsMichael Korie
BookDoug Wright
BasisGrey Gardens
by Albert Maysles
David Maysles
Ellen Hovde
Muffie Meyer
Productions2006 Off-Broadway
2006 Broadway
2011 Melbourne
2013 Seattle
2016 London
2016 Toronto
2016 Los Angeles

Grey Gardens is a musical with book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie, produced in 2006 and based on the 1975 documentary of the same title about the lives of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale ("Big Edie") and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale ("Little Edie") by Albert and David Maysles. The Beales were Jacqueline Kennedy's aunt and cousin, respectively. Set at Grey Gardens, the Bouviers' mansion in East Hampton, New York, the musical tracks the progression of the two women's lives from their original status as rich and socially polished aristocrats to their eventual largely isolated existence in a home overrun by cats and cited for repeated health code violations. However, its more central purpose is to untangle the complicated dynamics of their dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship.


The first act depicts the characters in their heyday and is a speculative take on what their lives might have been like when they were younger, when Little Edie was 24 and Big Edie 47. The second act is set 32 years later in 1973 at the decaying Grey Gardens estate and hews closely to the Maysles Brothers' documentary in its portrayal of them in their later years, when Little Edie is 56 and Big Edie is 79. While the first act is almost entirely fictional (the central event, the engagement between Little Edie and Joseph Kennedy, never happened), the second act takes much of its dialogue and action directly from the film. The same actress who plays Big Edie in the first act plays Little Edie in the second act.


The musical opened Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons on February 10, 2006 and ran through April 30, 2006. Directed by Michael Greif with choreography by Jeff Calhoun, it starred Christine Ebersole, Mary Louise Wilson, and John McMartin. It received mixed reviews, but attracted particularly good reviews for Ebersole and Wilson. It earned five Lucille Lortel Award nominations and twelve Drama Desk Award nominations.

Christine Ebersole received the Obie Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics' Circle, and the Drama League Award for Performance of the Year (2006) for her dual roles of Edith and Edie Beale in the Off-Broadway production.[1]

The show opened, with revisions, on Broadway on November 2, 2006 at the Walter Kerr Theatre and closed on July 29, 2007, after 307 performances and 33 previews. The production was nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 2007, winning three, including awards for both Ebersole and Wilson in leading and featured actress categories, respectively.

According to an article in Playbill on November 21, 2007, composer Scott Frankel said there were no plans for a national tour based on the 2006-07 Broadway production, but "Dramatists Play Service, Inc. is handling the show's licensing to stock, amateur, university and resident theatres. Independent productions, which started playing in those markets in 2008."[2]

In the spring of 2013, a three-month run was mounted in Seattle as a co-production between the 5th Avenue Theatre and ACT Theatre, starring Patti Cohenour and Suzy Hunt.

In August 2015, a three-week production was held at the Bay Street Theater, Sag Harbor, New York. Directed by Michael Wilson, the cast featured Betty Buckley, Rachel York, Matt Doyle (Joe/Jerry), Simon Jones (Major/Peale), Howard McGillin (George Gould Strong), James Harkness (Brooks Sr./Brooks Jr.), Sarah Hunt (Young Edie), Gracie Beardsley (Lee), and Dakota Quackenbush.[3][4] Buckley and York star in a production at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, California, again directed by Michael Wilson in July and August 2016.[5]

International productions

The Australian premiere was a limited run from November 25 to December 4, 2011, presented by The Production Company at the Arts Centre Melbourne Playhouse. Directed by Roger Hodgman, the cast featured Pamela Rabe and Nancye Hayes. The Australian production was nominated for the Helpmann Award for Best Musical in 2012.[6]

The Canadian premiere was presented from May 2–19, 2012 by Fighting Chance Productions in Vancouver, BC at the Jericho Arts Centre. The cast featured Cathy Wilmot (Big Edie - Act One/Little Edie - Act Two), Lucas Blaney (Joe Kennedy), Ranae Miller (Little Edie - Act One), Sue Sparlin (Big Edie - Act Two), Jack Rigg (Major Bouvier), Carman J. Price (Gould), Hal Rogers (Brooks), Angela Cotton (Jackie Bouvier) and Emma Cawood (Lee Bouvier) with direction and musical staging by Ryan Mooney and music direction by Caitlin Hayes.

A Japanese production opened on November 7, 2009 at Theater Creation in Tokyo and closed on December 6. The production then toured other Japanese cities, including Osaka and Nagoya.[7]

A Brazilian production opened on March 15, 2013 at the Sala Municipal Baden Powell in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, performing 32 times and closing on May 5, 2013. With musical translations, adaptations, and production by Jonas Klabin with additional musical translations by Claudio Botelho, directed by Wolf Maya, musical direction Carlos Bauzys and Daniel Rocha. Starring Soraya Ravenle, Suely Franco, Carol, Puntel, Guilherme Terra, Sandro Christopher, Pierre Baitelli, Jorge Maya, Danilo Timm, Raquel Bonfante and Sofia Viamonte, with Mirna Rubim substituting Suely Franco during the last couple weeks. there were an approximate total 9.000 spectators.[8]

The Brazilian production was nominated:

The production's set design was also selected for exhibit at the Prague Quadrennial 2015, Bia Junqueira was one of the set designer selected to represent Brazil.


The musical had its UK premiere at the Southwark Playhouse in January, 2016. Directed by Thom Southerland, the cast included Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell.[9]


A documentary from Independent Lens, Grey Gardens: From East Hampton to Broadway, about the making of the musical, was screened on October 18, 2007, at the Hamptons International Film Festival Long Island,[10] and was later shown on television on PBS stations.


The original Broadway characters and cast:

Character Off Broadway (2006) Broadway (2006) London (2016) Los Angeles (2016)
Prologue (1973)
"Big" Edie Beale Mary Louise Wilson Sheila Hancock Betty Buckley
"Little" Edie Beale Christine Ebersole Jenna Russell Rachel York
Act 1 (1941)
"Big" Edie Beale Christine Ebersole Jenna Russell Rachel York
George Gould Strong Bob Stillman Jeremy Legat Bryan Batt
Brooks, Sr. Michael Potts Ako Mitchell Davon Williams
Jacqueline Bouvier Sarah Hyland Grace Jenkins, Eleanor Waldron Katie Silverman
Lee Bouvier Audrey Twitchell Kelsey Fowler Alana Hinge, Rebecca Nardin Peyton Ella
"Little" Edie Beale Sara Gettelfinger Erin Davie Rachel Anne Rayham Sarah Hunt
Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Matt Cavenaugh Aaron Sidwell Josh Young
J.V. "Major" Bouvier John McMartin Billy Boyle Simon Jones
Act 2 (1973)
"Big" Edie Beale Mary Louise Wilson Sheila Hancock Betty Buckley
"Little" Edie Beale Christine Ebersole Jenna Russell Rachel York
Brooks, Jr. Michael Potts Ako Mitchell Davon Williams
Jerry Matt Cavenaugh Aaron Sidwell Josh Young
Norman Vincent Peale John McMartin Billy Boyle Simon Jones

Song List

≈ denotes new songs written for the Broadway production.[11]

Songs omitted in the Broadway production: "Toyland," "Body Beautiful Beale," "Being Bouvier," "Better Fall Out of Love," "Tomorrow's Woman," "Peas in a Pod" (Reprise).


The Broadway production was received enthusiastically by critics. Time Magazine named Grey Gardens the No. 1 best show to come out in 2006.[12] In reviewing the Off-Broadway production, Ben Brantley, reviewing for The New York Times, wrote "A blend of gentle compassion and acute observation, Ms. Ebersole's performance is one of the most gorgeous ever to grace a musical." However, he also noted that the musical "tilts perilously toward cheap celebrity camp." with a "very long and finally tedious first act."[13] Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote that the musical "brings to mind two phrases seldom linked nowadays: 'Broadway musical' and 'artistic integrity'... the songs, with music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie, sustain a level of refined language and psychological detail as elevated as Stephen Sondheim's. The score is a meticulously fashioned piece of musical theater that gains in depth the more you listen to it."[14]


The Off-Broadway cast album was released on August 22, 2006.[11]

The Original Broadway Cast album was released on March 27, 2007 through PS Classics.[11][15] It was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.

Awards and nominations

Original Off-Broadway production

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Book of a Musical Doug Wright Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Musical Christine Ebersole Won
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical John McMartin Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Mary Louise Wilson Nominated
Outstanding Director of a Musical Michael Greif Nominated
Outstanding Music Scott Frankel Nominated
Outstanding Lyrics Michael Korie Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Bruce Coughlin Nominated
Outstanding Scenic Design of a Musical Allen Moyer Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design of a Musical William Ivey Long Nominated
Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical Brian Ronan Nominated

Original Broadway production

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2007 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Doug Wright Nominated
Best Original Score Scott Frankel & Michael Korie Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Christine Ebersole Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Mary Louise Wilson Won
Best Direction of a Musical Michael Greif Nominated
Best Orchestrations Bruce Coughlin Nominated
Best Scenic Design in a Musical Allen Moyer Nominated
Best Costume Design in a Musical William Ivey Long Won
Best Lighting Design in a Musical Peter Kaczorowski Nominated
2008 Grammy Award Best Musical Show Album Nominated


  1. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "'Grey Gardens' Takes Root on Broadway Beginning Oct. 3",, October 3, 2006
  2. ^ Jones, Kenneth. Will Grey Gardens Grow in London? Creative Team Has Hope,, November 21, 2007
  3. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Betty Buckley and Rachel York Will Tend 'Grey Garden' This Summer" Playbill, May 28, 2015
  4. ^ "Bay Street Theater Productions", accessed July 13, 2016
  5. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Betty Buckley and Rachel York Open 'Grey Garden's at the Ahmanson" Playbill, July 13, 2016
  6. ^ "AusStage - Grey Gardens". Retrieved 29 Dec 2014.
  7. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Thank Heaven You're Here": Grey Gardens Premieres in Japan", November 7, 2009
  8. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2020-01-03.
  9. ^ Shenton, Mark. "Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell to Star in U.K. Premiere of 'Grey Gardens'", October 7, 2015
  10. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "New 'Grey Gardens' Documentary, About the Making of the Musical, Screens Oct. 18" Archived 2008-05-15 at the Wayback Machine playbill, October 18, 2007
  11. ^ a b c Jones, Kenneth."'Grey Gardens' Will Sprout a Fresh Broadway Cast Album, Due in March", February 12, 2007
  12. ^ Zoglin, Richard."Top 10 Everything 2006. TIME names the year's best in arts and entertainment" Time Magazine, December 20, 2006
  13. ^ Brantley, Ben."Theater Review.'Grey Gardens'" The New York Times, March 8, 2006
  14. ^ BWW News Desk.[1]
  15. ^ Portantiere, Michael.Sunday in Grey Gardens With Martin Short", April 3, 2007