Heartbreakingly bittersweet, the “Phoenix Machine” do cult musical Grey Gardens an absolute justice for its European premiere.
After nearly a decade since its acclaimed but fated Broadway run, Grey Gardens finally gets a London/European transfer under the hands of none other than London’s “Phoenix Machine”: producer Danielle Tarento and director Thom Southerland.
Focusing on Edith and Edie Bouvier Beal, the aunt and niece of Jacqualine Bouvier (better known as the glamorous First Lady to John F. Kennedy), Grey Gardens starts in 1941 and follows the lives of the dysfunctional mother and daughter as they descend from aristocratic glitz and status into reclusive outcasts living in a crumbling mansion overrun by cats.
With book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Kori, Grey Gardens has as much of a cult following as a musical as the personalities of its glamourously tragic characters. The revered and loved material is in safe hands given Tarento and Southerland’s revival/transfer record of bringing lesser known American musicals to London, such as Dogfight, Grand Hotel, and Titanic: the latter production having transferred to Toronto for an equally acclaimed run. The team have already pulled some fantastic strings too, getting none other than two Olivier Award winners to lead the cast of Grey Gardens: Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell.
The cast also stars Rachel Anne Rayham and Jermy Legat making their professional London debuts, alongside West End veteran Billy Boyle, Ako Mitchell (who was nominated for a Off West End Award for “Best Actor” for their role in Klooks Last Stand), and Aaron Sidwell (who recently led the cast of Greenday’s American Idiot at the Arts Theatre as Johnny).
The production is also joined by acclaimed lighting designer Howard Hudson who has recently done fantastic work on In The Heights, and famed choreographer Lee Proud who has worked with Tarento and Southerland in various productions, including Grand Hotel.
Grey Gardens plays at the Southwark Playhouse, London, SE1 6BD. Tickets are £25.00 (concessions available). To book, visit www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk.