By Arlene Edmonds
Special to the CS&T
ARDMORE – Greta Bradbury of Ardmore will become the young Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis nightly starting tomorrow.
The 14-year-old actress, who is an eighth grader at SS. Colman-John Neumann School in Bryn Mawr, will play the part in the Philadelphia Theatre Company’s “Grey Gardens.” The play will run in Center City Philadelphia until June 28.
For Greta, performing in a major production is a culmination of a nearly half-decade career. The adolescent has already amassed many theatrical credits including performing at the Walnut Street Theatre, being a featured vocalist at many area venues, performing in a local film and being the cantor at St. Colman Church, Ardmore.
“This is really a cool role for me because I get to speak in a dialect,” said the very animated and articulate Greta. “This is a play about Jackie Onassis’ aunt and cousin, Edith Bouvier Beale and Little Edie Beale. They used to have a lot of money and then things happened and their lifestyle changes. Everything goes wrong until they end up living in a house invaded by cats and raccoons. It’s still a lively story with a lot of singing and dancing.”
Greta prepared for her part by watching many film versions of “Grey Gardens” and reading about the Bouvier family. She said that playing parts like Rizzo in the play “Grease,” Cinderella in “Cinderella Kids,” the lead role in “Oliver,” and Hattie in “O Captain, My Captain” also laid the foundation for this role.
Those are among the many performances that have showcased her talents since she first took center stage in a fourth grade production.
“It was challenging in the beginning,” Greta admitted. “I had to go across a few speed bumps. Now that I am getting ready to open I am ready. I am just so excited because this is something that I love to do.”
Among those who are very proud of Greta is her mother, Monica Bradbury. She points to the encouragement that her daughter receives from St. Colman’s parish family.
“Greta has been cantoring regularly at St. Colman’s Church for about a year and a half now,” she said. “She first did the Christmas Choir, then went from being a soloist for the Christmas Masses in 2006, 2007 and 2008 to being a cantor. Father (James) Sherlock (pastor), music director Harry Solomon and the whole St. Colman’s Church Choir have been very supportive of Greta.”
Musical theater is something that Greta also loves. She said that ever since she first saw “Phantom of the Opera” she was hooked. Now her favorite musical genre is show tunes. She also loves to sing in church. “I really love doing solos whenever I get a chance, and my favorite is doing ‘O Holy Night’ which people ask me to sing all the time,” she said.
In addition to her love of the performing arts, Greta also has a philanthropic spirit. She sets aside a portion of her earnings to contribute to her parish and she rarely misses Sunday Mass. She has also donated to the Angel Network that supports a South African school.
Greta plans to continue acting once she enters Merion Mercy Academy this fall. She hopes to major in drama at either Fordham or New York University.
She advises her peers who want to have a performing career to be tenacious and believe in their talent. “It’s a tough business and often you don’t get a part because you may be an inch too tall or don’t have blonde hair – not because of anything you do so you have to keep (persevering),” she advised.
Greta hopes many will come to see her perform in “Grey Gardens” during the next month. “You can actually learn a little about history while having a good laugh,” Greta said. “It’s a very touching play. You get a combination of history, music and dancing as you experience the best of musical theatre. I think this is the start of an exciting future for me.”
For tickets to “Grey Gardens” visit PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org.
Arlene Edmonds is a freelance writer and St. Raymond of Penafort parishioner.