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New York City Center Encores! at 25 Presents "Grand Hotel", The Musical
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New York City Center Encores! at 25 Presents "Grand Hotel", The Musical

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New York City Center Encores! at 25

Grand Hotel
The Musical

Book by Luther Davis
Music & Lyrics by
Robert Wright and George Forrest

Based on Vicki Baum’s Grand Hotel
Additional Music & Lyrics by Maury Yeston

At New York City Center

Junior Cervila, John Clay III, Natascia Diaz, John Dossett
Irina Dvorovenko, Guadalupe Garcia, Nehal Joshi
James T. Lane, Jamie LaVerdiere, Eric Leviton
Robert Montano, Kevin Pariseau, William Ryall
James Snyder, Brandon Uranowitz
Daniel Yearwood, Heléne Yorke

Scenic Designer: Allen Moyer
Costume Designer: Linda Cho
Lighting Designer: Ken Billington
Sound Designer: Kai Harada
Music Coordinator: Seymour Red Press
Original Orchestrations: Peter Matz
Production Stage Manager: Adam John Hunter
Casting by Binder Casting, Jay Binder, CSA
Mark Brandon, CSA, Justin Bohon
Press: Joe Guttridge, Director of Communications

Directed & Choreographed by Josh Rhodes
Music Director: Rob Berman

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 25, 2018 Matinee

What a grand night at New York City Center, I felt like I was truly in a grand hotel. The Encores! at 25, Grand Hotel The Musical, new production, a reinvention of the acclaimed 1989 Broadway show, was mesmerizing throughout today’s intermission-less matinee. The audience, packed into City Center’s gorgeous theater, one of my favorite theaters in the City, could not contain its seamless enthusiasm and energized adoration for Josh Rhodes’ (Director and Choreographer) and Rob Berman’s (Music Director) all-too-brief-a-run show. That is, at Encores!, it’s just a week or weekend of performances, in this case, a five-day run. Full disclosure, as a balletomane, I personally have met and have seen Irina Dvorovenko in numerous, astounding ballet leads at American Ballet Theatre, from which she retired in 2013. I also have met and admired Junior Cervila, tango star, on many occasions, years ago, at tango milongas and special events. Both dance celebrities performed today in miraculous form and charismatic persona. Brandon Uranowitz, whom I have met at awards events, is a consummate comedic (with pathos) actor/dancer/singer, and today he outshone all his previous star performances in his wildly ecstatic tap and song number, “We’ll Take a Glass Together” with James Snyder (stunning tenor) and tap aficionados, James T. Lane and Daniel Yearwood, who earlier brought down the house with their dance duet, “Maybe My Baby”.

Grand Hotel, based on Vicki Baum’s 1929 novel, Menschen im Hotel, and on the 1932 film, starring Greta Garbo and John Barrymore, was a 1989 blockbuster on Broadway, book by Luther Davis and music and lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest. Guests and longtime residents of the hotel mingle, converse, dance, connect, become intimate personally or socially, fight, rob, shoot, and sing on the grandest scale. Tommy Tune, who won Tonys for best direction and choreography for the 1989 show, had brought in Maury Yeston to add music and lyrics, which are included in this Encores! production. The well-seasoned, Russian ballerina, slightly past her prime, is performed by Ms. Dvorovenko, who has splendidly perfected her vocal skills to the 1928, weekend in Berlin scenario. As Elizaveta Grushinskaya, she glides down a long, red carpeted staircase, eyes glued to the audience, in the manner in which prima ballerinas excel so well. The object of her desire at this scintillating, but decadent, hotel is Baron Felix Von Gaigern (Mr. Snyder), a baron without a dime, who almost stole her diamond necklace. Sub-plots ensue, including Raffaela Ottannio’s (Elizaveta’s confidante and assistant, a possessed Natascia Diaz) unrequited lust for her employer, the typist, Flaemmchen’s (Heléne York) painful subservience to her own employer, a married, textile executive, Hermann Preysing (John Dossett), and Flaemmchen’s subsequent relationship with Otto Kringelein (Mr. Uranowitz), a terminally ill Jewish bookkeeper, spending his savings for heavenly memories. Colonel Doctor Otternschlag (William Ryall) breaks the fourth wall and serves as narrator, pessimistic and foreboding.

The two tango pas de deux, by Junior Cervila and Guadalupe Garcia, as The Countess and The Gigolo, were worth the visit alone, with dramatic boléos, ganchos, lifts, tosses, and Mr. Cervila’s one-armed, high en air lift of his partner, who then falls into a low-level finish, a duo frieze. Ms. Dvorovenko’s new vocal talent was truly deep-toned, earthy 1920’s Russian, Weimar-styled. She also presented her finest balletic virtuosity, including the use of a moving ballet barre. Mr. Uranowitz’ klutzy character was priceless and irresistible, as he’s highly skilled in dance and drama, and Mr. Snyder’s operatic talent was sumptuously polished. Heléne Yorke, with the look of a silent movie actress, was, here, in a magnetic breakout role, a gal who needs her own showcase. The two tap dancers, Mr. Lane and Mr. Yearwood, riveted the crowd on each appearance, as did the tantalizing tango duo. Rob Berman’s orchestra evoked the soaring sound of a Broadway-bound production (we hope), with numbers like the opener, “The Grande Parade”, “The Grand Charleston”, “Bolero” (second tango pas de deux), the above-mentioned showstopper, “We’ll Take a Glass Together”, and the contagious “The Grand Hotel”. Allen Moyer’s iconic sets, with the orchestra displayed on high and the action front and center, plus the lushly luminous chandeliers, remain in my mind. Linda Cho’s costumes must be seen in an expansion to the big stage, with Ken Billington and Kai Harada remaining on board, respectively, for lighting and sound. Josh Rhodes’ direction and choreography were superb for this bustling, busy stage. Kudos to all.

Irina Dvorovenko, Natascia Diaz
and the Cast of "Grand Hotel"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Irina Dvorovenko and James Snyder
and the Cast of "Grand Hotel"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Heléne Yorke, Brandon Uranowitz
and the Cast of "Grand Hotel"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Junior Cervila, Guadalupe Garcia
and the Cast of "Grand Hotel"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at