Posts Tagged ‘New York City Center

28
Mar
18

Grand Hotel, The Musical: My Review

Grand Hotel 2With a deeply engrossing book by Luther Davis and the beautiful music and lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest, the legend that is Grand Hotel, The Musical has reappeared once more to grace the New York City Center stage in all its glory. Reincarnation is the hallmark of this storied blockbuster. It was first a novel by Vicki Baum in 1929, it then became a star studded legendary MGM film in 1932, its first sadly unsuccessful attempt at a Los Angeles theatrical production followed in 1958, but it wasn’t until Tommy Tune breathed life into this in-depth multi-character story for a Broadway run in 1989 did Grand Hotel come to glittering life.

The setting is Berlin and the year is 1928. The roaring twenties are still in vogue and the world has yet to feel the sting of the Great Depression. On this particular weekend, a particular set of characters make their way through the lobby of the Grand Hotel. As they each check in they have no idea that their lives will be forever intertwined.

Their stories are told to us by the hotel’s unofficial resident doctor Colonel Otternschlag. He’s seen it all because even though he always decides to check out he invariably decides to stay for one more day. In this role the very talented William Ryall, a member of not only the original Broadway production but various incarnations since, serves as a more than fitting tour guide. An aging and failing ballerina Elizaveta Grushinskaya, danced beautifully by acclaimed ballerina Irina Dvorovenko, arrives for yet another tiring tour. There’s perpetual unpaid guest Baron Felix von Gaigern who’s more of a broke and down on his luck thief played with romance and flair by James Snyder.

Grand Hotel 1The voices and talents of the principle cast are all equally powerful but it’s the fatally ill bookkeeper Otto Kringelein, who is seeking a few last moments of living a life of grandeur, and the young typist Flaemmchen, who fantasizes about escape and becoming an American film star, that steal the show here. The performances of Brandon Uranowitz and Helene Yorke in those roles are both funny and touching and can’t help but bring a tear to the eye as they slowly find each other.

The Wright and Forrest songbook, made possible by a show saving assist with additional music and lyrics from theatre icon Maury Yeston, is twenty-four numbers long providing several opportunities for the company to exhibit their considerable skills. The tap dancing duo of James T. Lane and Daniel Yearwood in “Maybe My Baby” are absolutely delightful. “Girl in The Mirror” lets Helene Yorke’s charms shine. Brandon Uranowitz and James Snyder, along with the aforementioned Lane and Yearwood accompanied by the ensemble, tear things up with the raucous antics of “We’ll Take a Glass Together”. The love ballad “Love Can’t Happen” once again highlights Snyder, this time with leading lady Irina Dvorovenko, provides a sincere tug at the heartstrings. And the beautifully staged “Bolero” tango, directed and danced by Junior Cervila and Guadalupe Garcia, is a dark and delicious treat.

Grand Hotel 4Grand Hotel is a luxurious and luscious cavalcade of theatrical wonders. The moment Ken Billington’s deep, rich lightening hits Allen Moyer’s gorgeous set you instantly know you’re in for a treat. Moyer pays homage to this show’s history by once again putting the supremely gifted orchestra, led by Rob Berman, on stage and above the performers, he also retained two chandeliers which marked the original 1989 set, and while there was no revolving door for the characters to sashay through, a large gold framed mirror placed upstage on the upper tier gave an even better way for them to all seemingly emerge. Inhabiting this world of color and light are the equally lush costumes of designer Linda Cho. Her work accentuates and solidifies all the surrounding splendor.

The same remembrances can be said of Josh Rhodes’ masterful direction and equally powerful choreography. Rhodes gives a nod to original director Tommy Tune’s gold painted ballroom chairs that helped to enrich the minimalist world of its predecessor. Rhodes also enlists the aide of an almost ever-present chorus to not only sing and dance their hearts out but to also build an entire world with the use of those chairs and in some cases even their own bodies.

Grand Hotel 3This production of Grand Hotel is not a perfect show. There are a few things that don’t gel, but they’re mere quibbles. Every Encore! show could use a bit more time to achieve true perfection. But the tight rehearsal schedule and immediate on demand delivery provides an electric energy that makes the best productions in their twenty-five seasons leave a lasting impression. In this case Grand Hotel, The Musical shines and stands apart as a true legendary vehicle should.

There’s a mystery that comes with an exceptionally exquisite revival. A kind of ghostly reminiscence that lingers from the magic that brought the original production to life. This new Grand Hotel is haunted in that sublime way. As the character’s first appear, for as long as they stay, and until they all check out you feel their alchemical energy pulse through you. You feel rewarded to have witnessed them again, even if it’s just briefly, and you truly wish they could stay, for just one more day.

New York City Center
Main Stage
131 West 55th St,
New York, NY
www.nycitycenter.org/pdps/grandhotel/
212.581.1212
Mar 21 – 25, 2018

From an original post on TheaterScene.

Edward MedinaEdward Medina is an Amazon KDP bestselling author of high fantasy, dark horror, and epic adventure books, short stories, and poems. To date his combined works have earned over one hundred and fifty Amazon and Goodreads five star reviews from readers, reviewers, bloggers, teachers and fellow authors.

He is a native New Yorker who over time has built a significant and multifaceted career. He has been a producer, director, and writer for both digital media and the New York Off and Off – Off Broadway stages. He also had the honor and the privilege to work for the late great Jim Henson creator of the Muppets.

Edward founded a successful independent production company dedicated to family entertainment and children’s causes. He also established a multimedia company in order to assist nonprofits achieve their own cause related goals. He went on to become a theme park designer. For fun he became a steam train engineer and has been since childhood a sometime magician.

Currently Edward is a critic and feature entertainment columnist covering Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Clubs and Cabarets for TheaterScene and The Fire Island Sun. He also maintains his love of theatrical production by continuing to create new works for both stage and screen. And his dream of building a fully realized world of fantasy on tropical shores is still very much alive and well.

If you’d like more detailed information on Edward’s work, visit his LinkedIn profile or his website. You can also explore his books, follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook, and subscribe to his blog on WordPress.

Edward Medina is proud to be a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror  Writers Association.

18
Nov
17

The Red Shoes: My Review

The Red Shoes 1The mere mention of The Red Shoes conjures up technicolor memories of the 1948 Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger British film that tells the story of a love triangle sided by a controlling director, an idealistic composer, and a dedicated dancer thrown together in a creative crucible. It also brings to mind remembrances of the dark Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale of a pair of red slippers that once worn may never be removed until the dancer dies of exhaustion or has her feet cut off to make the madness end. First produced in London last year it took twenty years for director and choreographer Matthew Bourne and his New Adventures dance company to bring his sumptuous vision to life. Every day spent conceiving this masterpiece was time well spent.

The theatrical story of The Red Shoes follows the film closely. The simple plot is a love letter to dance, theatre, the life of performance artists at work and the sacrifices they are willing, or are forced to make, in order to create a legacy. Still set in the 1940’s, Victoria Page, a young ambitious dancer arrives at Covent Gardens to audition for the demanding company director Boris Lermontov. While there the company composer Julian Craster spies her as well. Once cast she begins her rise within the company ranks and in the hearts of both men. But they each want her for reasons of their own. Craster is in love with her heart. Lermontov is in love with her gifts. Once she dons the aforementioned shoes to dance the ballet written for her by the composer, and created for her by the director, she begins to feel torn by both men and her growing fame. Eventually the emotional and artistic strain is too much on the threesome and they begin to pull at each other. This results in rejection, revenge, and a tragic ending foretold by a train whistle in the first act.

The Red Shoes 4The phenomenal cast of twenty-six dancers includes members of Bourne’s New Adventures dance company, the New York City Ballet, and the American Ballet Theatre. In this particular performance Sam Archer was dark and dramatic as ballet impresario Boris Lermontov, Sara Mearns was exquisite and flawless in her role as rising star Victoria Page, and Marcelo Gomes was romantic and heartbreaking in his interpretation of struggling composer Julian Craster. The rest of this outstanding cast is split between a variety of dancers at various times. A mix born out of the necessity to rest dancers during what must be a grueling run. The choreography that guides and glides them all is detailed and complex. Scenes are filled with movement both front and center and deep in the background. Every character that occupies a space is at work bringing this vision to life.

The music of New York born composer Bernard Herrmann serves as the foundation that brings this lush world to life. The score of The Red Shoes is a compilation of the original film score and Herrmann’s works on Citizen Kane, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and Fahrenheit 451. All these orchestrations were webbed together by Terry Davies into what amounts to a haunting score. In a traditional Broadway musical there is always the hope that the tunes are catchy enough that the audience is humming them as they leave the theatre. The score for The Red Shoes will be playing in the theatre of your mind in a bittersweet blend for days afterward.

The Red Shoes 3Though there has been some very impressive production design and execution, both on and off Broadway, this season but the sets, lights, sound, and costumes of The Red Shoes outshines them all. The beautifully clothed to perfection dancers dance but the set dances as well. A suspended curtained proscenium arch is flown about the stage as needed to give points of view from a myriad of angles. One moment we are on stage, the next we are backstage, the next we’re stage left, or stage right, and in one set of scenes with a simple side to side motion we are transported from one distant room to another. The rest of the settings from Covent Gardens, to the Monte Carlo Opera House, to a seaside resort, and theatrical offices, and lover’s apartments are all equally grand with minimal execution. Such is the magic of set and costume designer Lez Brotherston, lighting designer Paule Constable, projection designer Duncan McClean, and sound designer Paul Groothuis.

At the center of all this, The Red Shoes ballet itself is the culmination of all the parts of the overall whole. It’s different than the wild color explosion of the film and yet it holds its own as a darker richer piece. It’s a unique sparkling grey gothic gem at the center of a ring setting of bright color rich diamonds. To experience the New Adventures rendition of The Red Shoes is to surrender yourself to master storytellers using every facet of their talents to bring romance and tragedy to life. Without a single word spoken, with only powerful grace filled movement, one is made to truly believe in the transformative powers of a pair of crimson slippers.

New York City Center
Main Stage
131 West 55th St,
New York, NY
www.nycitycenter.org/pdps/TheRedShoes/
212.581.1212
Oct 26 – Nov 5, 2017
$35 – $140

From an original post on TheaterScene.

Photo credit Johan Persson.

Edward MedinaEdward Medina is an Amazon KDP bestselling author of high fantasy, dark horror, and epic adventure books, short stories, and poems. To date his combined works have earned over one hundred and fifty Amazon and Goodreads five star reviews from readers, reviewers, bloggers, teachers and fellow authors.

He is a native New Yorker who over time has built a significant and multifaceted career. He has been a producer, director, and writer for both digital media and the New York Off and Off – Off Broadway stages. He also had the honor and the privilege to work for the late great Jim Henson creator of the Muppets.

Edward founded a successful independent production company dedicated to family entertainment and children’s causes. He also established a multimedia company in order to assist nonprofits achieve their own cause related goals. He went on to become a theme park designer. For fun he became a steam train engineer and has been since childhood a sometime magician.

Currently Edward is a critic and feature entertainment columnist covering Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Clubs and Cabarets for TheaterScene and The Fire Island Sun. He also maintains his love of theatrical production by continuing to create new works for both stage and screen. And his dream of building a fully realized world of fantasy on tropical shores is still very much alive and well.

If you’d like more detailed information on Edward’s work, visit his LinkedIn profile or his website. You can also explore his books, follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook, and subscribe to his blog on WordPress.

Edward Medina is proud to be a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.




Edward Medina Author

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