A Musical Trip to 'Grey Gardens'

Sara Gettelfinger as Little Edie and Christine Ebersole as Big Edie, singing "Two Peas in a Pod." i i

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

Sara Gettelfinger as Little Edie and Christine Ebersole as Big Edie, singing "Two Peas in a Pod."

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.

Christine Ebersole, this time as Little Edie, with Mary Louise Wilson as Big Edie.

hide captionChristine Ebersole, this time as Little Edie, lounges. Mary Louise Wilson is playing Big Edie.

Christine Ebersole, in a bathing costume, with Mary Louise Wilson.

hide captionEbersole and Wilson.

Christine Ebersole sings to the young people, a piano in the background.

hide captionEbersole, 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.

hide captionGettelfinger, 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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