Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Ladies of "Grey Gardens"

Although the Oscars are generally considered the gay man's Super Bowl, for Manhattan's gay population The Tony Awards, which aired tonight, rank right up there.

While "Spring Awakening" kicked major ass, winning 8 awards in its 11 nominated categories, I was thrilled to see the Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical and Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical awards go to the women of "Grey Gardens" -- Christine Ebersole & Mary Louise Wilson. The show was a tour de force for Ebersole, playing both the younger version of Edith "Big Edie" Bouvier Beales in the first act and the older version Edith "Little Edie" Bouvier Beales in the second. As complicated as it is to write, I can only imagine how Ebersole has kept her wits and vocal chords during this entire run. And remember, it had already completed a run off-Broadway and out-of-town.

For anyone who has seen the Maysles brothers' documentary of the same name [required viewing for gay man or fashionista worth his or her own salt] Ebersole's portrayal of "Little Edie" in the second act is so fucking on, that it's off again and then back on. She absolutely nails it -- voice, modulation, tics, gestures, rolling eyeballs, dance moves -- the works. And this is no slight to Ms. Wilson, who's theatrical pedigree and onscreen presence are to be duly acknowleged, she holds her own and then some, but the show belongs to Christine from the curtains rise to its fall at the end.

Brava ladies! And thanks for one of the most memorable, thrilling nights of New York theatre I've ever had.

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