Famous Greystone Mansion in West Chester Brings Back Scandal, Murder and the 1920s with Immersive Theatre Experience

-Courtesy of Aversa PR & Events

Greystone Hall and the Colonial Playhouse of Delaware County present the 2021 production of The Manor, a two-act play by Kathrine Bates, directed by Sam Barrett.  Inspired by a true story from the 1920s, the play was designed to be performed in the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills where those events took place. The play was later adapted by the playwright for Greystone Hall right here in Chester County, where the mansion itself is again the stage and the star! The story itself centers around money, marriage, politics and power. The audience follows the unfolding story as it moves through the grand stately rooms and intimate spaces of the famous 114 year old mansion. The play returns by popular demand for its fourth time at Greystone Hall, after a break last year during the height of the pandemic.

Opening night will be Thursday, November 11th, with playwright Kathrine Bates set to be in attendance. The play will run though Thanksgiving Weekend for holiday audiences, with a total of ten performances ending on November 28th. Tickets are on sale now for $60 each, which includes the show and experience, plus complimentary sweet and savory refreshments at intermission. Tickets are available at www.greystonehall.com/the-manor. All performances will be held at Greystone Hall, located at 2450 Aram Ave, West Chester, PA 19380.

The Manor by Kathrine Bates will bring to life the famous rooms and stylings of Greystone Hall. The two-act play originally was first performed in 2002 at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. Greystone Hall’s Managing Partner and Greystone resident Velda Moog travelled to Los Angeles to see the show and meet with the playwright. The playwright later adapted the script for its East Coast Debut at Greystone Hall in 2017. The Manor at Greystone Hall continued to play to sold out audiences until the pandemic pressed pause in 2020. The show is now back and Greystone is set to take center stage again as the twelve actors bring audiences room-by-room as the drama unfolds.

THE STORY
The Manor’s script was inspired by tragic events that took place at the magnificent mansion that early 20th century oil magnate, Edward Doheny, built for his son. The real events and family saga were fictionalized by playwright and actress Kathrine Bates and specifically written by her to be performed by the “Theater 40” professional stage company at the Greystone Mansion, now owned by the city of Beverly Hills, California where the events took place. It has played there annually since 2002. Residents and visitors have come back and seen the show once, twice and some even more.

Set in the 1920s, the play is a fictionalized account of the “triumphs and tribulations” of the fabulously wealthy Edward Doheny family, renamed in Bates’ play as the “MacAlisters.” Doheny (1856-1935) drilled the first successful oil well in Los Angeles, starting the oil boom of the early 1900s in Southern California.  In the late 1920s, oil tycoon and philanthropist Doheny was accused of bribing the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in exchange for obtaining a lease 32,000 acres of federal land in California.  This was part of the infamous Teapot Dome scandal during the Harding Administration. Although the Secretary of the Interior was convicted of accepting a bribe, Doheny was ultimately acquitted. In its wake, however, a terrible tragedy took place in the grandiose Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills he had gifted to his son Ned.

To lend authenticity to the tale, the show will be presented in the grand and glorious Greystone Hall. Audience members are led from room to room in the beautiful mansion as different scenes of the narrative are portrayed, leading up to a shocking conclusion.

The mansion – a symbol of wealth, power and political intrigue – is the star of the show. The plot, a grand setting the likes of Downton Abbey, and its similarity to today’s news and politics add up to a perfect recipe for a theatrical feast.

The LA Times called the show, “A saga of the rich and mighty in the tradition of Dynasty with shades of Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.”

DC Metro said, ““In our era when rich deal-makers are in power, this drama is chillingly relevant,” and “The mansion and its stylings are an important part of the drama, because they reveal the aura of privilege that led the characters to act above the law, with a sense of entitlement.”

THE STAR
For over a hundred and fourteen years, Greystone Hall has stood in the heart of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Commissioned by inventor and businessman, P.M. Sharples and designed by architect Charles Barton Keen, Greystone Hall was completed in 1907 in an English Renaissance style. Foxcroft granite stone exterior, landscaped formal gardens, ornate detailed woodwork, and exquisite antiques transport visitors and guests to another time and place. In 1942, the mansion was purchased by the Jerrehian Partnership, a renowned Philadelphia-based oriental rug dealer.

Since 1960, the Jerrehian family has hosted family wedding ceremonies and receptions. Velda Jerrehian Moog was the first to have her reception at Greystone in 1960. In 1992, the partnership decided to rent Greystone Hall as a Conference & Reception Venue to help cover some of the ongoing and increasing costs of maintaining and preserving it. Greystone Hall would become one of the most sought after destination wedding venues in the entire region. Moog  has been the managing partner for Greystone and resides in the private quarters of the mansion. Her daughter Elizabeth Moog, who has manages all the events for the past decade, now lives in an apartment within the mansion,

The Manor is a passion project for Moog, who personally sees to all of the arrangements to make the annual production a huge success – from personally selecting the intermission canapes to working closely with Colonial Playhouse on every detail is in place for actors and theatre goers.  A goal of bothe the Colonial Playhouse and Greystone Hall is that future performance of the play will become a local theatrical tradition as has happened in LA.

Greystone Hall is proud to be Chester County’s most elegant conference and reception venue. While it is rented for private events, it is not generally open to the public. It has remained a private family residence of the Jerrehian family, its owners, for nearly 80 years.

THE CONNECTION
From California to Pennsylvania, The Manor was written for Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills and later adapted to Greystone Hall in West Chester. When asked about the connection and the show’s journey, Moog said, “I first heard about the play when Greystone Hall was selected as the location site for a 2015 docudrama on the Investigation Discovery Channel.  The Beverly Hill Greystone inspired Bates to write a play specifically designed to be performed in the mansion where the real life events in the 1920s and 30s took place.  For some reason the filming could not take place in California and all the video scenes of the mansion were shot at our Greystone interspersed with photos of the Beverly Hill mansion.  I knew the Beverly HIll house from working and living in LA in the early 1980s. Soon after the location schoot, I contacted the playwright. My husband and I went to LA  to see the play as Bates’ guests..”

She continued, “I met with Kathrine Bates and we sat in a coffee shop for hours one afternoon laying out the flow of the plot onto our Greystone Hall’s floor plan.  It took me about a year to find a community theater group ready to take on the special logistics of a play where cast and audience move in and out of rooms in a mansion. Katherine Bates planned a trip east to visit Greystone to inaugurate her play. My niece  Amy Jerrehian knew someone who was involved with the Community Playhouse and we invited their director to meet us and the playwright.  Everything came together all at once that day and within a few weeks there were auditions and then rehearsals for the east coast premier in November 2017.”

“We are thrilled to have a special connection to Kathrine and we welcome her back to opening night, now four years later,” concluded Moog.

THE TALENT
The Colonial Playhouse of Delaware County, whose home stage is located at Aldan, PA, is a community theater established in 1940.  It has a long tradition of offering a variety of fine theatrical programs. Sam Barrett, President of Colonial Playhouse, has immersed herself once again in directing this encore production of The Manor– an extraordinary and logistically challenging play- with exceptional dedication and passion.  

For her cast, Barrett has selected many notable names from past productions, mixed in with some new latent for the fourth season of The Manor. The cast for this year includes:
Charles McCallister – Jim Copeland*
Marion McCallister – Annaliese Gove*
Sean McCallister – Den Mahoney
Abby McCallister  – Chelsea Flynn
Frank Parsons – John Devine*
Greg Pugh – Greg Speca*
Henrietta Havesham Pugh – Brynne Maddrey
Senator Al Winston – Dave Cashell*
Cora Winston – Anne Allen*
James the Butler – Jim Hulme*
Ursula the Housekeeper – Kate Sapsis
Ellie the Maid – Joanne Naughton**

* Actor has previously performed at Greystone for this play
** Actor has participated but is new to this role

PERFORMANCE SUMMARY:
November 11, 12, 18, 19, 26, 27 at 7:00pm
November 14, 21, 27, 28 at 2:00pm

HEALTH PROTOCOLS:
Greystone Hall is committed to the health and safety of the community. It is recommended that all guests, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask while indoors. Please note that one scene takes place in a more intimate setting; all attendees will be required to wear a mask for the duration of that scene. Masks will be available on site. This policy is subject to change based on state and local requirements.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT:
Writer, actress and musician, Kathrine Bates is a magna cum laude graduate of California’s San Jose State University. As a playwright, she has assembled an impressive body of work. The Manor is inspired by true events in the history of Beverly Hills’ Greystone Mansion, where the play debuted in 2002 and is still produced annually.

Other produced plays from her pen: Talhotblond, an edgy, contemporary true-life drama based on an obsessive internet love triangle; Roar Of The Crowd surrounding the 1921 Fatty Arbuckle scandal; her acclaimed one-woman show Evil Legacy, the Story of Lucrezia Borgia; The Color Of Rose on the inspiring, turbulent life of Rose Kennedy, and her stylish stage adaptation of James M. Cain’s tale of lust and greed, Double Indemnity.

As an actress, she played “Marion MacAlister” in The Manor’s original West Coast production from 2002-2017, has enjoyed lead roles in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Blood Wedding; Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean; Chekhov in Yalta and Twelfth Night (among others), and has appeared in TV dramas and films. As a musician, she plays classical piano, sings bossa nova, and spent 30 years conducting a 40-voice vocal group in holiday concerts.

And now she’s beyond excited for The Manor’s continuing run at West Chester’s breathtaking Greystone Hall! Heartfelt thanks to Velda, Audrey, Sam and the entire cast and crew for taking on this challenging project!

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR:
Sam Barrett currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Colonial Playhouse. She has directed plays at Colonial and other area theaters for several years. Some notable productions in her past include To Kill a Mockingbird, Lombardi, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  Barrett has also had a lot of fun working on “special productions” at Colonial such as BYOT (Bring Your Own Talent Night) and 24-Hour Theatre, and she has immersed herself in directing this transplanted production of The Manor – an extraordinary and logistically challenging play – with exceptional dedication and passion.  Barrett is thrilled to be directing this adventure for the fourth season! Same words, same place, but a completely different experience.

ABOUT COLONIAL PLAYHOUSE:
While the first production of Colonial Playhouse was staged in 1940, our ancestry is traceable to the resurgence of the “Little Theatre” movement which swept the country in the early 1930s. About 1933, a group of local people interested in the amateur stage formed a theatre group called the Aldan Funsters. In 1937 the “Funsters” rented our building, which had been erected as a local clubhouse by the Aldan Improvement Association in 1925.

In 1940 a dispute among the Funsters over incorporation and ownership of the property broke up the group. The dissenting faction united into a nonprofit corporation known as the Colonial Playhouse. The members purchased the building and launched a unique dramatic program, combining the best features of the professional and amateur stage. Since that day, an unbroken schedule of plays has been presented to audiences from all over Delaware County and the surrounding areas.

The original playhouse, a majestic white structure with two stately pillars and large double doors gracing the entrance, was rightfully called “The Showplace of Delaware County.” Unfortunately, in May of 1964, a fire destroyed the main part of the building, which stood in what is now our cast parking lot. Thanks to a firewall, the rehearsal hall, dressing rooms, and storage area were saved from destruction. Through the dedication and hard work of the members, the remains were remodeled into our present day playhouse.

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