In the mid-1970s Albert and David Maysles – first-generation sons of Jewish immigrants to the US from Eastern Europe – made Grey Gardens, one of their most famous films. The documentary told the story of a mother and daughter from the highest echelons of US Society, Edith and Edie Bouvier Beale, who were the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The two Bouvier Beale women were discovered living as reclusive social outcasts in Grey Gardens, a dilapidated mansion overrun by cats that was so squalid the Health Department deemed it “unfit for human habitation”. Now another creative Jewish pair, composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie, together with book writer Doug Wright, have brought their multi-award-winning musical based on the film to London. JR’s arts editor Judi Herman, who saw Thom Southerland’s European production starring Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell, was enchanted by this riches to rags story, as you’ll hear in her interview with the three writers.
Grey Gardens runs until Saturday 6 February, 7.30pm & 3pm, £25, £20 concs, at Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, SE1 6BD; 020 7407 0234. www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk
You can watch the cult documentary Grey Gardens in full on YouTube, along with a clip of Jenna Russell singing Another Winter in a Summer Town from the musical.
JR’s arts editor Judi Herman joins Joanne Rosenthal, curator of the London Jewish Museum’s Blood exhibition, to take you on a guided audio tour. This cutting edge exhibition explores the provocative and complex subject of blood, featuring manuscripts, prints, Jewish ritual and ceremonial objects, art, film, literature and cultural ephemera to present a rich exploration of how blood can unite and divide, reflecting on over 2,000 years of history.
Blood testing and donation at the museum
Anyone interested in saving lives through blood donation is invited to attend a Know Your Group day at the Jewish Museum, to register and test likely blood groups, on Sunday 17 January ahead of donation in February – donors will be invited to give blood then. There is no need to register in advance for the Know Your Group days – simply turn up between 10am and 4pm.
Blood runs until 28 February at London Jewish Museum, 129-131 Albert St, NW1 7NB; 020 7284 7384. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk
Larry Mollin talks to JR’s arts editor Judi Herman about his new play, The Screenwriter’s Daughter, charting the tempestuous relationship between Hollywood screenwriter Ben Hecht and his free-spirited daughter Jenny, who joins the radical New York Living Theatre in the 1960s against Hecht’s will. This rich and powerful Jewish writer was blacklisted in the UK in the 1940s and ’50s for his political activism, but he has also been recognised for his human rights efforts in creating public awareness of the Holocaust and furthering the cause of Jews around the world. His 120 screenplays include Gone with the Wind and Scarface, which won the first Oscar for Original Screenplay in 1927, and for Alfred Hitchcock he wrote a number of his best psycho-dramas, receiving his final Academy Award nomination for Notorious. His stage writing includes The Front Page, the sharp and witty comedy set in a newspaper office he co-wrote with Charles MacArthur (also filmed several times, including with Jack Lemmon and Walther Matthau).
The Screenwriter’s Daughter runs until Sunday 29 November. 7pm & 2pm, £15-£19.50, Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BX; 020 7734 2222. www.leicestersquaretheatre.com