The Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) (1220 Fifth Avenue), in its forthcoming exhibition Joel Grey / A New York Life, examines the enduring impact that legendary actor Joel Grey and his adopted city have made on each other. Through rare artifacts from his stage and screen career, objects from his personal collection, and his own photography, MCNY offers a unique look at New York through Grey's eyes as well as a visual retrospective of his career. The exhibition's opening night reception will take place on the evening of Monday, April 11, which is also Grey's 79th birthday. It will open to the public the following day, and remain on display through Monday, August 8.
Susan Henshaw Jones, the Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum commented: "Joel Grey has transformed himself, through his extraordinary talent, into characters that seduce, surprise, and amaze us. This exhibition provides a rare glimpse into the performer's psyche, in which we can see that New York City has seduced, surprised and amazed him. We are thrilled to share this work with our audiences."
The exhibition will be an overview of Grey's artistic life in New York City. It will include photographs, posters, playbills, and costumes from several of Grey's productions, including the iconic Emcee costume from Cabaret, a crown worn in Goodtime Charley, and an original costume sketch for George M!. Original caricatures of Mr. Grey by legendary artist Al Hirschfeld will also be on view.
Selections of Joel Grey's extensive work as a photographer will also be on display. His New York photographs, which will be featured in the exhibition, focus lovingly on small details of the urban environment, including graffiti, architectural details, and sidewalks. In accentuating the forgotten detritus and the multitude of everyday details of the city, Grey's photographic work provides a quiet and poignant counterpoint to his life in the spotlight.
The exhibition will cap a landmark year for Grey, who will be represented in two concurrent Broadway productions this spring: starring in the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of Anything Goes and directing the all-star Broadway premiere of The Normal Heart.In a career that was launched in the early 1950's, Joel Grey has created indelible stage roles each decade since: as the iconic Emcee in Cabaret (1966, Tony Award), as song and dance man George M. Cohan in George M! (1967, Tony nomination), as Charles VII in Goodtime Charlie (1975, Tony nomination), as Jacobowsky in The Grand Tour (1979, Tony nomination), as Olim in New York City Opera's Silverlake (1981), as Amos Hart in the landmark revival of Chicago (1996), and as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz in Wicked (2004).
Joel's non-musical stage roles include John Guare's Marco Polo Sings a Solo (1975) at The Public Theatre; the title role in the Williamstown Theatre Festival production of Chekhov's Platonov (1978); Larry Kramer's seminal The Normal Heart (1986) at The Public Theatre; The American Repertory Theatre's production of Ibsen's When We Dead Awaken (1991) at the Sao Paulo Biennale, directed by Robert Wilson; Herringbone at the Hartford Stage (1992); John Patrick Shanley's A Fool and Her Fortune (NY Stage and Film, 1992); and in the Roundabout Theatre production of Brian Friel's Give Me Your Answer, Do! (1999), for which he received a Drama Desk Award nomination.