European premiere of Grey Gardens – Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell star

Grey Gardens cast image

Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell lead the cast of Grey Gardens, having its European premiere at the Southwark Playhouse in January 2016

Olivier Award-winning West End stars, Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell, are to star in the eagerly awaited European premiere of Grey Gardens.

Based on an iconic 1975 documentary, Grey Gardens, with Book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie, tells the spectacular real life rise and fall of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ aunt and cousin, Edith and Edie Bouvier Beale.

Starting in 1941 at an engagement party at Grey Gardens, the Bouvier’s mansion in East Hampton, Long Island, the musical tracks the progression of the two women’s lives from American aristocrats to reclusive social outcasts living in such squalid conditions, in a home overrun by cats, that the Health Department deemed the mansion ‘unfit for human habitation’.

Grey Gardens, produced by Danielle Tarento and directed by Thom Southerland, the award-winning team behind Grand Hotel, Titanic, Parade and Mack & Mabel, will open for a six-week season in The Large at Southwark Playhouse from Saturday 2 January, 2016 (press night is Thursday 7 January).

More cast details to be announced.

Sheila Hancock will play Edith ‘Big Edie’ Ewing Bouvier Beale. Hancock’s extensive career spans theatre, radio, television and film. She is also now enjoying a career as a features presenter and as a writer, including The Two of Us which won the British Book Award for Author of the Year, and her debut novel Miss Carter’s War. Her recent theatre roles in London include Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret (Olivier Award, Clarence Derwent Award), Mother Superior in Sister Act the Musical (Olivier nomination), Emmie Packer in Barking in Essex and ‘Mum’ in The Anniversary (a role played by Bette Davis while Hancock played the daughter-in-law, in the film version), Maitre Suzanne Blum in The Last Duchess (Hampstead), and Meg in The Birthday Party (Lyric Hammersmith). She was in the original London productions of Annie and Sweeney Todd (Olivier nomination), and Rose in Gypsy at West Yorkshire Playhouse (TMA Best Actress Award). In New York, she played Kath in Entertaining Mr Sloane (Tony nomination).

Jenna Russell is Edith ‘Little Edie’ Bouvier Beale. Russell won the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Sunday in the Park With George. She made her Broadway debut in the show and was nominated for the Best Actress in a Musical Tony Award, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical and the Drama League for Distinguished Performance Award. She won the 2008 Theatre World Award for Broadway Debut Performance. Previously she was nominated for the Best Actress in a Musical Olivier Award for Guys and Dolls. Her other extensive West End roles include Urinetown, Di, Viv and Rose, Martin Guerre, Follies and Les Misérables.

Director Thom Southerland was longlisted Best Newcomer in the 2011 Evening Standard Awards for Parade. He was named Best Director at the 2011 The Offies – Off West End Theatre Awards – for Me and Juliet at the Finborough. He directed Grand Hotel, Titanic, Victor Victoria, Mack & Mabel and Parade (Southwark Playhouse), Jerry Herman’s The Grand Tour (Finborough), The Mikado (Charing Cross Theatre), Daisy Pulls It Off, Irving Berlin’s Call Me Madam (Upstairs At the Gatehouse), the European première of I Sing!, Divorce Me, Darling!, Annie Get Your Gun, The Pajama Game and sold-out all-male adaptations of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore and The Mikado (Union), Noël and Gertie (Cockpit), the European premiere of The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Landor), and the European premiere of State Fair (Finborough and transfer to Trafalgar Studios). His latest production is The Smallest Show On Earth (Mercury Theatre, Colchester and tour) .

Danielle Tarento (producer and casting director) was named Best Producer at the 2012 Off West End Awards and won Best Off West End Production at the 2014 WhatsOnStage Awards and Best Musical Production at the 2014 Off West End Awards for Titanic at Southwark Playhouse. She has also produced Pure Imagination: The Songs of Leslie Bricusse (St James Theatre), Grand Hotel, Dogfight, Victor Victoria, Mack & Mabel, Parade, Company and Three Sisters at Southwark Playhouse, Taboo (Brixton Clubhouse), The Pitchfork Disney (Arcola), Burlesque, Drowning On Dry Land (Jermyn Street) and Noël and Gertie (Cockpit). She is co-founder of the Menier Chocolate Factory and co-produced all in-house shows 2004–2006, including Sunday in the Park With George, which received a West End transfer and five Olivier Awards.

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Sheila Hancock joins cast of Peter Pan – A Musical AdventureNews

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