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Grey Gardens: Original Broadway Cast Recording Cast Recording

4.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Cast Recording, August 22, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Grey Gardens-proclaimed the #1 Show of the Year by Time magazine is preserved here in its Original Broadway Cast Recording. The show had been previously recorded following its off-Broadway premiere in the spring of 2006, but this new recording features the new songs and new cast members that were added for its Tony Award-winning Broadway transfer. Grey Gardens opened on Broadway on November 2, 2006, to rave reviews, led by Ben Brantley in The New York Times, who called it an experience no passionate theatergoer should miss! Starring Tony Award-winner Christine Ebersole and Tony Award nominee Mary Louise Wilson, it subsequently appeared on over 25 Best of 2006 lists, including #1 Show of the Year (Time), Best Musical of the Year (USA Today, Entertainment Weekly) and Performance of the Year (The New York Times, New York) for Ms. Ebersole. In addition to the new songs and new performances, this Original Broadway Cast Recording also features an all-new 32-page full-color booklet complete with lyrics and Broadway production photos.

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Based on the Maysles brothers' cult 1975 documentary of the same name, this musical is an endearing—-and sometimes genuinely heartwrenching—-oddity propelled by Christine Ebersole's exceptional, for-the-history-books performance. The movie followed the kooky duo of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter, Little Edie Beale, as they lived with their 52 cats in a derelict East Hampton mansion. The show's first act, set in 1941, is a prologue of sorts, while the second act, set in 1973, follows the movie closely. Ebersole plays Edith in Act I (which she concludes in dazzling manner with "Will You?") and Little Edie in Act II (when Mary Louise Wilson comes in to play the mother). And while Wilson is superb, this is Ebersole's show. Technically, she is flawless—-just listen to the way she changes her voice between the acts—-but she also makes Little Edie a poignant eccentric, a lost soul stuck in a world of deluded, decaying grandeur. It all peaks in the poignant "Around the World," the show's best song and an Ebersole tour de force. Note that this recording documents the Off-Broadway production; the show transferred to Broadway in the fall of 2006 with a slightly altered first act. --Elisabeth Vincentelli
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 22, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Cast Recording
  • Label: P.S. Classics
  • ASIN: B000G75A9I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,218 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steven Valenti on August 22, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I was debating between 4 and 5 stars for this recording of the new musical "Grey Gardens," and finally settled on 5. Not because the score has completely blown me away (though it's consistently enjoyable and of pretty high quality, which will probably only grow on me even more), but because as an album-- a cast recording-- this is a really satisfying experience.

I tend to judge cast recordings not just on the music, but on the level of craftsmanship and performance-- the acting, the orchestra, the snippets of dialogue included to give us a sense of the story, the mood, cohesiveness, etc. In other words, I prefer to come away with a feeling other than "those were some good songs." Like many collectors, I don't get to see every show for which I buy the recording, so my general philosophy is "the more the better." Keeping that in mind, this recording of "Grey Gardens" was obviously put together with great care, and all the little details add up to a great cast recording.

Plus, what an intriguing basis for a musical! Based on a true story, and expanded from the documentary of the same name, this is the story of Edie and Edith Bouvier, the cousin and aunt of Jackie Kennedy, who lived out their lives in a dilapidated mansion (the "Grey Gardens" of the title), misspending their wealth and social status to live in seclusion with "52 stray cats." It's a stranger than fiction story that is by turns funny, tragic, and touching. It's unique, smartly constructed (I like the way the general normality of Act I teases us with hints of the mother-daughter dysfunction and outright strangeness of Act II), and at 78 minutes, the recording is very full in a way that seems to be lacking of late.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
GREY GARDENS is fast becoming the "cast album dujour" title for 2006, and features Christine Ebersole in what may be the greatest performance of her career. Based on the cult favourite documentary "Grey Gardens" by the Maysles brothers; and featuring a score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie. The book is provided by Doug Wright ("I Am My Own Wife").

The story of Edith "Big Edie" Bouvier Beale, and her daughter "Little Edie" is by now very well-known, thanks to the documentary. They became unfortunate figures of ridicule for some, but most were captivated by their bittersweet tale. The theme of bittersweet, and lives half-lived, permeates through the musical GREY GARDENS. Quite simply, it's the best new musical I've come across in a long, long time.

The show opens in 1941, with Big Edie (played by Christine Ebersole) hosting a party at her elegant East Hampton estate Grey Gardens, where her daughter Little Edie (Sara Gettelfinger) hopes to announce her impending engagement to Joe Kennedy Jr., (Matt Cavenaugh). When her dreams are dashed, Little Edie sadly - and somewhat unknowingly - resigns herself to a life of spinsterhood at Grey Gardens... Their demented relationship is sealed by Big Edie's "Will You?".

In Act Two, the elegant mansion is transformed into a delapidated wreck circa 1973. Big Edie (now played by Mary Louise Wilson) is a bedridden, somewhat senile recluse, cared for by Little Edie (now played by Christine Ebersole) who has grown embittered by resentment and regret.

The overreaching theme of the piece is captured in "Around the World", in which Little Edie imagines finally walking away from her mother's shadow. Ebersole's 11 o'clock number "Another Winter in a Summer Town" is also heartbreaking.
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Format: Audio CD
Grey Gardens is a gorgeous, haunting show. The creators have worked feverishly to revamp the show for Broadway. The changes are quite extensive, as anyone familiar with the Playwrights Horizons version can attest. For example, the song list in the current version is considerably different from that on the CD, particularly in Act 1. The following songs are no longer in the show, at least when I saw it in October:

ACT 1

"Toyland"

"Body Beautiful Beale"

"Better Fall Out of Love"

"Being Bouvier"

"Mrs. Porter's Anthem"

"Tomorrow's Woman"

ACT 2

"Peas in a Pod" (reprise)

And the following songs have been added:

ACT 1

"The Girl Who Has Everything"

"Goin' Places"

"Marry Well"

All improvements, from where I sit. They've clarified the relationships and focused the dramatic tension by cutting out some extraneous numbers and recasting others in a more effective light. I doubt they'll release a new CD, but I do hope that they at least record the new numbers and release them on iTunes.

Act one is a very interesting and entertaining mix of old-fashioned musical comedy and modern-day drama. The story itself has a very modern feel, but the story-telling is like that of a Gershwin twenties show. It makes for a compelling and moving amalgam of sensibilities. There's something deliberately unsettled about the first act, as though it was designed to set you up for the emotional punch of the second act, which is exactly what it does: establish empathy for the characters to make the denouement all the more devastating.

The luminous Christine Ebersole is brilliant.
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