Makes for a Dull Evening - or - One Woman Does Not a Musical Make."
Last week in a New York Times review, Ben Brantley raved about “Grey Gardens” now at the Walter Kerr Theatre and waxed poetic about the myriad talents of Christine Ebersole. In his view, “Grey Gardens” is THE musical to see. In his review (March 8th, 2006) of the show’s earlier incarnation at Playwrights Horizons, he loved Christine Ebersole but complained about the set, costumes and light design stating, “…neither they – nor to be honest, the book or the songs – would count for much without the presence of Ms. Wilson and especially, Ms. Ebersole.” I wish I’d read his assessment before paying top dollar for the “expanded Broadway production”.
In his most recent review, Brantley again points out the obvious problems of the show – no real reason for the first act, no real first act, unmemorable music, non-existent choreography, and several weakly presented characterizations. He then justifies the evening on the excellent performance of Ms. Wilson as the elderly Mrs. Beale and the bravura performance of Ms. Ebersole as the mature Edie. In fact, he liked the performances so much that he says its “the best argument I can think of for the survival of the American musical.”
One bravura performance does not a musical make. And while Ms. Ebersole is terrific as both mother (Act I) and daughter (Act II) and Ms. Wilson’s number “I Ate The Cake I Had” is memorable, two and a half hours is a long time to sit for a few great moments in a second act.
“Grey Gardens” and Ms. Ebersole’s terrific performance struck me not as a justification for the survival of the American musical and it is not a musical that I would like to see again. One individual performance shouldn’t, and can't, carry the show. As I waited for the big moments, I wondered why I was watching this story at all. If instead of the Bouviers or the Kennedys, the Bushes or the Carters had some crazy cousins who lived in a condemned building with God knows how many cats, would anyone care? My recommendation? Rent the Maysles brothers documentary and skip this incarnation of “Grey Gardens” altogether. Save your money for a better show.
Tuesday @7pm; Wednesday - Saturday @8pm; Wednesday and Saturday @2pm; Sunday @3pm
Pricing: $86.25 - $111.25
Balcony seats for $36.25 are available only at the box office.
Box Office: Tele-Charge (212) 239-6200