Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Maureen Moore is one of the go-to understudies in New York, having stood by for everyone from Glenn Close (Sunset Boulevard) to Bernadette Peters (Gypsy) to Cyndi Lauper (The Threepenny Opera). She's also a semi-name in her own right, having played Charlotte in NYCO's much-lauded A Little Night Music and teenage June in the Angela Lansbury Gypsy. I was expecting a lot from her when I bought a ticket to see her go on for Christine Ebersole as Little Edie in Grey Gardens, and I was very much let down. Act One was a nightmare; Moore is a belter, not a soprano, and she strained to reach many notes (when Edith storms off trilling the opening phrases of O mio babbino caro, it sounded as if Moore was in pain). Act Two was better, and Moore's rendition of "Around the World" was haunting; she brought to that delicate, beautiful song a mixture of childlike woundedness and bitterness that gave me chills. But that was the only time I got chills from her rather cold performance, and Mme. Ebersole was sorely missed. Grey Gardens is still a wonderful evening of theatre, with Mary Louise Wilson, John McMartin and especially Bob Stillman continuing to turn in top-notch work. However, I left tonight realizing, now more than ever, how much the star makes the show in certain cases.