City Center Encores! presents GRAND HOTEL - New York City Article
City Center Encores! presents Grand Hotel
131 W 55th St., CityTix (212) 581-1212
Wednesday March 21 through Saturday March 25
Although German novelist Vicki Baum wrote her classic story Menschen im Hotel way back in 1928, you might almost think she had the modern musical theater in mind, with her sprawling story of interconnected characters, plots and subplots. There’s the mousy bookkeeper with a terminal illness who wants to live before he dies, the surprisingly erotic romance between a young destitute nobleman and an aging ballerina, the pnuematic sexually-aware secretary who wants to be in pictures, the honest but morally weak businessman who is compromised by the temptation of money and sex - it all fits together into what became, 60 years after the book (with two film adaptations along the way) into a classic show. The project was started circa 1958 with an adaptation by veteran songwriters Robert Wright and George Forrest (best known for Song of Norway, Kismet, and Kean) but then not fully realized until 30 years later newcomer when Maury Yeston (now best known for Nine and Titanic), and director-choreographer Tommy Tune went to work on it. It was worth the decades of effort: from the first note until the curtain call, this is a masterful show, with constant movement, action, song, dance, comedy, tragedy, and everything driven by one of the great stories of the 20th century. While the Tony-winning original production had a formidable cast (Jane Krakowski, Karen Akers, Brent Barrett), the Encores! production will boast some memorable star turns as well, including (but not limited to) Helene Yorke as Flaemmchen, Brandon Uranowitz as Kringelein, and James Snyder as the Baron. Currently, the storied composer Maury Yeston is working on a new musical about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge; like the sinking of the Titanic, I had never thought of that as something to sing and dance about, but if there’s anyone who can make it work, it’s Mr. Yeston.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)