Credit: Evan Hanover

Based on Vicki Baum’s 1929 novel and its 1932 Hollywood film adaptation,
this 1989 musical focuses on a group of people staying at a swank Berlin
hotel in 1928. Among them are a handsome young German baron in debt to a
gangster; an aging Russian ballerina on yet another farewell tour; the
dancer’s devoted secretary, secretly in love with her employer; a young
typist who dreams of Hollywood stardom; a businessman on the brink of
bankruptcy; a mortally ill Jewish accountant who has cashed in his life’s
savings in order to spend his final days in luxurious living; and a cynical
doctor, a morphine-addicted veteran of World War I. As these characters
cross paths, they discover unexpected romance and experience deadly danger.

The show’s script and score are credited to playwright Luther Davis and
songwriters Robert Wright and George Forrest, with additional material by
Maury Yeston. But the real strength of Grand Hotel lies in the way
its original director-choreographer, Tommy Tune, along with original
musical supervisor Wally Harper, edited merely serviceable material into a
fluid, compelling theatrical narrative. This strength is evident in Kokandy
Productions’ intimate revival, directed by John D. Glover with imaginative
choreography by Brenda Didier. The ensemble singing and dancing is
excellent, and musical director Aaron Benham’s onstage instrumental trio
(piano, violin, percussion) brings authority to a score that evokes the
1920s with operetta waltzes, dance-hall foxtrots, ballroom tangos, and a
touch of “le jazz hot.”   v