Comedy and Tragedy Highlight Grey Gardens: The Musical at the Reitz

DUBOIS – Both sides of the theatrical masks of comedy and tragedy are on display, as the Reitz Theater in DuBois presents Grey Gardens: The Musical, Oct. 16, 17, 22, 23, and 24 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 18 at 2 p.m.

The musical was written by Doug Wright with music and lyrics by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie.

Directed by Jonathan Heid, and Assistant Director Jason Valentine, the production is based on a 1975 documentary that focuses on a mother and daughter, both bright names on the social register that later become East Hampton’s most notorious recluses.

The documentary was what caught Heid’s attention. “Big Edie Beale and Little Edie Beale were the aunt and older cousin of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, Heid says, “and they began life in opulence, but this changed over time after Big Edie’s divorce in 1946.

By 1972, the two were living in the dilapidated mansion that Big Edie’s husband gave to her in the divorce settlement. As time progresses, the house ends in ruins and was the home to many stray cats and several raccoons.

It was Jackie Kennedy who intervened in 1972 and donated funds toward the repair, clean-up and upkeep of Grey Gardens so Big Edie and Little Edie could remain in the only physical security they had ever known.”

Heid adds that the audiences can expect a fun but poignant telling of the relationship between a mother and her adult daughter. “It focuses on their hopes, dreams, crushed dreams, and desire to go on through their hardships,” he says, “Musical numbers highlight the successes and disappointments of the two women.”

Among the cast, Becky Sensor plays both Bouvier ladies, Big Edie in her younger years, and Little Edie later on, as Cheryl Husted steps into Big Edie’s later years. Also featured are cast members Nate Horner, Mia Kovalyak, Annie Wingard, London Watt, Jason Valentine, Tom Branch and Joe Sensor.

The production ran off Broadway in 2006, and hit the Broadway stage in 2007. Christine Ebersole played the dual roles of Big and Little Edie, with the production receiving 10 Tony Award and 12 Drama Desk Award nominations, with Ebersole winning both for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical. Mary-Louise Parker won a Best Performance for a Featured Actress Tony.

Heid also praises his production team for a job well done. “Having Jason Valentine as an assistant director, and Joe and Becky Sensor as musical directors have been invaluable to the project,” Heid adds.

Sponsored by Perkins Family Restaurant and Global Fabrication, tickets are $12, and are available to be purchased online, or at Kohlhepp’s True Value Hardware in DuBois, or at the Reitz Theater Box Office on the night of performance. Season ticket holders only can reserve their seats by call 814-375-4274. To find out more, go to the Reitz Theater Web site.

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