Tony-winning ‘Grey Gardens' makes Bay Area debut

For Beth Glover, “Grey Gardens” is an all-you-can-Edie experience.

The veteran actress plays Big Edie and Little Edie in “Grey Gardens,” the musical based on the 1975 documentary of the same name. In Act 1, set in 1941, Glover is the mother, Edith “Big Edie” Ewing Bouvier Beale. And in Act 2, set in 1973, she plays the daughter, Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale.

It’s a juicy pair of roles for an actress, and Glover is immersing herself in the world of the Beales for the TheatreWorks production of “Grey Gardens” that begins performances this week in Mountain View.

The Mississippi-born Glover remembers the first time she saw the documentary by brothers Albert and David Maysles.

“When I moved to New York in the ’80s, any gay man worth his salt had a library of videotapes that comprised Rosalind Russell’s every word or movement,” she says. “Barbra Streisand is a given amid this huge video library of stuff no one has ever seen. One of those things was ‘Grey Gardens,’ and when I saw it, I freaked out. I had never seen anything like it.”

The documentary tells the story of mother Beale, aunt to Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, and her daughter, who lived in their crumbling, flea- and vermin-infested East Hamptons mansion, dubbed Grey Gardens, with dozens of cats, raccoons and piles and piles of garbage.

“The Beales’ story depressed me at first,” Glover says, “but then I realized that these women were living the lives they chose and really bucking social conventions.”

The musical opened off-Broadway in 2006 then transferred to Broadway later that year, where it won a Tony Award for Christine Ebersole, whose roles are being taken over by Glover at TheatreWorks in the first “Grey Gardens” production outside of New York.

Turning a documentary into a musical is an unusual evolution, but Glover says it’s a “no brainer.”

“Big Edie and Little Edie loved music,” she says. “When Little Edie was told years ago that there was interest in creating a musical, she wrote, ‘My whole life was music and song. It made up for everything. Thrilled, thrilled, thrilled … With all I didn’t have, my life was joyous.’”

If you go

Grey Gardens

Presented by TheatreWorks

WHERE: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View

WHEN: Opens Wednesday; continues 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays; closes Sept. 14

TICKETS: $26 to $54

CONTACT: (650) 903-6000 or www.theatreworks.org

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