‘Christmas With The Crawfords’ Takes The Phrase ‘Dysfunctional Family’ To A Whole New Level

"Christmas with the Crawfords" cast
“Christmas with the Crawfords” will be on the Out Front Theatre stage through Dec. 21. CREDIT DIANE HAYMES / OUT FRONT THEATRE COMPANY

Take one iconic movie actress, a mix of family drama, combined with a live radio show, and you have “Christmas with the Crawfords.”

The Out Front Theatre production is currently on stage, through Dec. 21, with quite a few “Golden Age” icons in tow.

Of course, the iconic Joan Crawford and her darling children will be there. The production will also feature Hollywood divas Judy Garland, Carmen Miranda, Gloria Swanson, Hedda Hopper, Ethel Merman and the Andrews Sisters.

There will be plenty of snarky comments, catty fights and “wire hanger” references to go around.

“City Lights” producer Summer Evans sat down with director Jen Acker and Emily Nedvidek, who plays Joan Crawford, to discuss the production.

On the relationship between Joan Crawford and her children: 

“Joan always said that nothing was handed down to me, and nothing will be handed down to my children. So she made her children work very, very hard. They started doing dishes when they were roughly 4 years old. For her, she thought she was giving them the best possible upbringing they could have, showering them with love, but also not letting them become entitled brats,” Nedvidek said.

On how Joan Crawford is viewed since the debut of “Mommie Dearest”:

“It is disputed that Joan’s youngest daughters (the twins) say that the book is inaccurate in what their upbringing was like. They say she was the most loving mother, but Christopher and Christina (the older children) say they had a very different upbringing than they (the twins) did. Even Bette Davis said that she was no fan of Joan Crawford, but she knew that Joan didn’t treat her children how Christina had said. It kind of polarized Joan’s image. There were people that knew Joan well and said there was no way this could happen, and there were people that said they definitely saw those sides of Joan and that it’s not surprising they had such a traumatic upbringing,” Nedvidek said.

Acker continues, “When the book came out, it was extremely controversial, and there’s an incredible and sad interview with Christina where they take callers on a TV program and the callers — one after the other — tell Christina she should be ashamed of herself. Christina is an adult woman with tears in her eyes, and there’s a lot of victim shaming going on. So there’s this moment in celebrity culture where these people have no idea who Joan Crawford is, refuse to believe this narrative.”

This story was originally published with audio on WABE.org.

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