Sunday, December 30, 2007

SOB's 7 Singular Sensations Of '07 - #2: Christine Ebersole

SOB's 7 Singular Sensations Of '07 - #2: Christine Ebersole

Introduction: While others use the end of the year to provide their lists of the top shows of the past year, here at Steve On Broadway (SOB), I wait until the conclusion of the entire Theatrical Season to provide my official tally.

Instead, I'm once again devoting the waning days of the calendar year to celebrate SOB's Singular Sensations -- those magical live performances that have stayed with me throughout the year. During 2007, I have enjoyed, been wowed and ultimately inspired by a dazzling display of excellent performances from some of the theatre world's best actors, singers and dancers of our time.

Like Spring Awakening, the quirky musical Grey Gardens began its life Off-Broadway in 2006 before transferring to the Great White Way later in the same year. In the case of Grey Gardens, it was a completely transformed show.

But my first opportunity to see this superb little gem of a show finally came in February. Talk about worth the wait -- I was so transfixed by this musical that it ranked as my favorite show during the entire 2006-07 Theatrical Season.

The primary reason I loved this show so much was due to the two excellent performances that would ultimately be rewarded with a richly deserved Tony Award (make that three when you count the marvelous Mary Louise Wilson). Both were offered by the astonishing Christine Ebersole as she portrayed both Edith and Little Edie Bouvier Beale -- the real-life relatives of former First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis -- whose fall from grace to utter squalor made for the most unlikeliest of Broadway musicals.

Here's what I had to say last February about Ebersole's nuanced performances:
Grey Gardens can hardly be called a “feel good” show. So why did I find myself feeling better than "good" after (finally) taking in a performance of this sublime show?

Two words: Christine Ebersole.

The incredibly talented Ebersole has proven she's at the height of her career. Her virtuoso performance in Grey Gardens is one that I'll never forget.

Mind you, I’m not one to voluntarily stand up and cheer reflexively. Personally, I find that the standing O is grossly overused and should be strictly reserved for only the best of the best. Not only did I leap to my feet upon Ebersole’s curtain call, but I found the extremely rare “bravo” freely coming from my heart and passing through my lips.

In Grey Gardens, Ebersole more than masterfully channels both Edith and Little Edie Bouvier Beales of the funny-if-it-weren’t-so-tragic seventies documentary of the same name. She luminously inhabits mother Edith in act one and then incredibly suspends any disbelief that you are watching anyone but the real Little Edie in the second act. Right before your eyes, a radiant and breathtaking Ebersole becomes Little Edie.
I've now had several opportunities to see Ebersole show her stuff on Broadway -- although I may be one of the few who actually remember her, and quite fondly at that, from her brief stint on "Saturday Night Live" back during the 1981-82 season).

The first time I saw her on stage came in her terrific performance in the superb 2000 revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man, as well as in her Tony-winning turn as Dorothy Brock in the 2001 revival of 42nd Street. She imbues every role with such style, wit and panache, but Grey Gardens proves she truly is at the height of her distinguished career.

Here's a toast to the Tony-winning singular sensation, Christine Ebersole! May you enjoy every bit as much success and more when your show completes its transfer to London.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Related Stories:
SOB's 7 Singular Sensations Of '07 - #3: Amy Morton (December 29, 2007)
SOB's 7 Singular Sensations Of '07 - #4: Elena Roger (December 28, 2007)
SOB's 7 Singular Sensations Of '07 - #5: Raúl Esparza (December 28, 2007)
SOB's 7 Singular Sensations Of '07 - #6: John Gallagher, Jr. (December 28, 2007)
SOB's 7 Singular Sensations Of '07 - #7: Jennifer Holliday (December 27, 2007)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Top Ten Of The Year (June 4, 2007)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Best New Musicals (May 22, 2007)
Grey Gardens (The SOB Review) (February 25, 2007)
SOB's 6 Singular Sensations Of '06 - #1: Patti LuPone (December 30, 2006)
Honorable Mentions: SOB's Singular Sensations Of '06 (December 30, 2006)
SOB's 6 Singular Sensations Of '06 - #2: Cate Blanchett (December 30, 2006)
SOB's 6 Singular Sensations Of '06 - #3: Chita Rivera (December 29, 2006)
SOB's 6 Singular Sensations Of '06 - #4: Barry Humphries (December 28, 2006)
SOB's 6 Singular Sensations Of '06 - #5: Kitty Carlisle Hart (December 28, 2006)
SOB's 6 Singular Sensations Of '06 - #6: Meryl Streep (December 26, 2006)

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