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Touch of Grey

6 Jun

I’ve been fascinated by the story of the Beales for only a short time now — ever since I watched the movie Grey Gardens on HBO — and when I heard that there was going to be a production of the Broadway adaptation here in Boston at the Lyric Stage Company, I decided to check it out (with my friend Nina). I’d never seen the Tony Award–winning show when it was on Broadway, never had much interest, but hey, why not see it now? The story remains fascinating to me, and thankfully this production (which ends today) kept the mystery alive.

Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter, “Little” Edie, were the eccentric relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In the 1940s, they were the toast of the town, living a high society life on East Hampton, Long Island. But their lives fell apart, and by the 1970s, they were broke recluses living in their now-decrepit mansion (called Grey Gardens). The co-dependent women, as dramatized in the musical, blame each other for their fate, but neither can quite live without the other. Little Edie is nothing short of a kook, going on about her bizarre “revolutionary costume for today” and her dreams deferred.

In the show, many in the cast of actors play multiple roles. Most notably, Leigh Barrett plays Big Edie in the first act (which takes place in 1941) and Little Edie in the second (which takes place in 1973). She was this production’s obvious standout performer. The second act is definitely the more enjoyable of the two, and I didn’t walk out humming any of the songs (other than “The Revolutionary Costume for Today,” with its da-da-da-da-da), but overall I’m happy I saw the show. Now I feel like I want to watch the famous Maysles brothers documentary.

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