Downton Abbey Meets The Great Gatsby in Beverly Hills
A play based in and on L.A.’s famous Greystone Mansion takes you through the local icon that has been used for countless movies, TV shows and glitzy parties.
You don’t have to travel to a grand manor house in England or a glitzy mansion in New York to get an up close and personal taste of glamorous, 1920s intrigue and scandal. L.A.’s own storied mansion, known as Greystone, opens its doors to the public for a few months every summer for a room-to-room production of The Manor — Murder and Madness at Greystone Mansion, a play inspired by the lavish estate’s dark past.
The annual production is staged mostly on Thursday and Friday evenings in July and August, with a few matinees thrown in between. It has become so popular that it sells out fast, so you’d better get your tickets now if you want the chance to enter the iconic mansion that is constantly booked for film production and the chicest of Hollywood parties and fundraisers.
Not to reveal any spoilers, but the play, produced by Theatre 40, takes place in the '20s and '30s when in real life, iconic Los Angeles developer Ned Doheny, his wife Lucy and their five children, moved into the newly built estate. Four months later, Ned and his secretary, Hugh Plunket, were found dead in a bedroom with a smoking gun between them. No one has been able to figure out the murder/suicide details to this day.
Katherine Bates wrote and produces the play, an Upstairs Downstairs-type drama “like a big jigsaw puzzle,” she says. “It’s a fictionalized version of what happened within those very walls,” she notes, with the caveat that although it’s “living history,” some dramatic license has been taken.
Greystone, listed on the National Registry of Historical Places, is no stranger to dramatic license. It’s probably hosted more filming than any other home in Hollywood, and that’s saying something. If you’ve seen movies like All of Me, Batman & Robin, The Big Lebowski, any of the Spiderman movies, Rush Hour, X-Men, There Will Be Blood, The Social Network and countless others, you’ve seen Greystone Mansion.
Or if you’ve ever watched TV shows like Dark Shadows, Dynasty, Murder She Wrote, Gilmore Girls, The Mentalist, Entourage, Revenge, NCIS, The Vampire Diaries or The Young and the Restless (and who hasn’t?) you’ve also seen the famed mansion.
So you might almost feel right at home as you go from room to room, following these characters in a very intimate setting. But, as all good guests know, you need to RSVP ASAP if you want to visit. Seating is extremely limited.
This year they’re not selling tickets online, only by phone. The price of admission is $55 per person, regardless of age, but the drama is not recommended for young children. The number to call is 310-696-6118.
Event organizers suggest you arrive early, so you’ll have the chance to stroll Greystone’s elaborate grounds. Curtain time is 6 p.m., which is a bit early for most Angelenos to battle traffic on a weekday, but Bates suggests you rearrange your schedule and make special accommodations for the event. After all, the chance to tour Greystone doesn’t come along every day.