BWW Review: GRAND HOTEL at Signature Theatre - A Lush Presentation
I recall seeing GRAND HOTEL in its pre-Broadway incarnation at the Colonial Theatre in Boston in 1989. I took my mother and a niece. I do not have much recollection of whether I enjoyed it or not. But I do remember the late Michael Jeter's performance from the Tony Awards in 1990. He was terrific. Tommy Tune directed
I was thrilled to see that Signature would be doing GRAND HOTEL. But the reason why it is not done too often is it lacks a cohesive book and the music by Robert Wright and George Forrest is not memorable. Even the great Maury Yeston (TITANIC) who added additional music and lyrics could not make it a CD worth purchasing.
Yet this production is worth seeing due the exquisite cast who perform magnificently, the great staging, superb set by Paul Tate DePoo III, clever choreography by Kelly Crandell d'Amboise, moving lighting by Colin K. Bills, and wonderful Costumes by Robert Perdziola.
What does a set designer do when actors on stage need to make a telephone call when there are not telephones on the stage? The phones miraculously fall from the ceiling. Very clever.
Based on a `929 German novel by Vicki Baum and then a classic film from 1932, the story takes place in the lobby of the Grand Hotel circa 1928 in Berlin...just a few years before the hit musical CABARET. Like in CABARET, there is a Jewish undertone. A character named Otto Kringelein (played by the spectacular Bobby Smith) is an ailing old Jewish man and wants to spend his last days at the Grand Hotel. He is at first denied is stay at the hotel, even with a reservation, due to his religion, but thanks to a businessman, gets his opportunity to see how the rich really live.
The always great Lawrence Redmond plays a World War I veteran and doctor living in the hotel and can always be seen hovering over the action in the hotel lobby with a patch over one eye.
Natascia Diaz once again dazzles on the Signature stage playing an insecure ballerina.
Kevin McAllister plays an evil businessman to perfection.
There is a cash-strapped Baron played by Nkrumah Gatling.
I enjoyed Nicholas McDonough as the hotel clerk eagerly awaiting the birth of his first child and faces some sexual advances from his supervisor, Rohna (Ben Gunderson)
Kudos to Ian Anthony Coleman and Solomon Parker III who shine when dancing.
The rest of the cast is uniformly terrific as they maneuver all over the stage.
GRAND HOTEL continues at the Signature until May 19, 2019. Important to remember the musical lasts about 1 hour and 45 minutes and has no intermission. For tickets, call 703-820-9771 or visit www.sigtheathre.org.
Next up at Signature is SPUNK running April 30 to June 23.
May 2 from 1 to 2 p.m. see Kevin McAllister perform in the Mead Lobby for free.
June 6 from 1 to 2 p.m. see the cast of SPUNK perform free in the Mead Lobby.
BLACKBEARD, a world premiere musical opens June 18 and runs to July 14, 2019.
And do not forget Signature's Free Open House noon to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 5, 2019.