Grand Hotel

I enjoyed the Shaw production of Grand Hotel though the music itself is not very memorable. I didn’t leave the show haunted by any of the melodies but by the wonderful performances. Director Eda Holmes had her hands full with set of strong, compelling characters – at time it was more traffic cop with all the blocking needed to move everyone, sometimes all at once, on the stage. 

Based on the 1932 all-star film the plot moves with clockwork perfection. Multiple characters with different needs, motivations & secrets interact over 24 hours in a plush hotel. Staff is attentive but have their own stories tell as well. I loved the telephone operators. As ballerina Elizaveta Grushinskaya, Deborah Hay demonstrates some real ballet barre chops. Vanessa Sears as Flaemmchen gives ‘Girl In The Mirror’ real longing.

This is very much an ensemble piece. It’s almost as if the writers counted words to make sure each principle character had their fair share of lines. All were strong singers and dancers as well. Parker Esse’s choreography captured the energy of 1929 without it feeling like a museum piece. It was also clear that the cast loved what they were doing. The energy in ‘We’ll Take A Glass Together’ was palpable. Michael Therriault as Otto Kringelein shows amazing physicality in this number as well. The spinning bar was a delight.

The script handles multiple characters without becoming confusing or muddled. The layers of story telling were intricate &, for a change, logical. I can’t speak to the historical accuracy of the play though. My only negative comment is that the sound balance for the chorus scenes: multiple characters singing different view points with the chorus having their own songs – became rather muddy – as if the band felt it had to play louder to be heard – result: singers & lyrics drowned out.

1929 Berlin was simmering between the wars & there is little sense of what was to be, when people come to the Cabaret. A thoroughly entertaining production I’d recommend. 

Other recent reviews:

Long Day’s Journey Into Night: “a ghost haunting the past” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-30f 

Coriolanus: “My rage is gone” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-31K 

The King and I: “The King and My Memories” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-31Y

Julius Caesar: “Honourable Women” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-33T

The Hound of the Baskervilles: “Entertainment Afoot”

https://wp.me/p1RtxU-34I

The Tempest: “Brave Spirits Indeed” https://wp.me/p1RtxU-35S

http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/event/hot-damn-its-a-queer-slam-feat-janice-lee/

Me and My Lamp Post

The Shaw Festival production of Me and My Girl: Directed by Ashlie Corcoran was a sheer delight. Well-paced, effectively staged it held my attention from beginning to end – even through the repeated curtain calls. Great songs helped – though only a few of them are that well-known: The Lambeth Walk & Leaning on a Lamp Post – thanks to my English heritage they had some resonance.

A cracker-jack ensemble dances, sings, moves sets with clockwork precision. Lead Michael Therriault as Bill Snibson brings a great sense of fun plus a Tommy Steele glint to his role of the commoner who gets turned into a Lord. As Sally, his girl friend  Kristi Frank is fresh, fun & believable. Élodie Gillett’s Jacquie Carstone is sexy, predatory & sweet at the same time. Jay Turvey’s Parchester with his very Gilbert & Sullivan-esque theme song “The Family Solicitor” managed to steal the scene every time it was used.

Parker Esse’s choreography was also scene-stealing thanks to an amazing ensemble who shifted from energetic Broadway hoofing to tap with ease. I loved the Lamp Post dream ballet. It was clear that everyone was enjoying the show. They loved to dance, to sing, to entertain & the audience was drawn in to the show & kept captivated to final bow. Highly recommended.

 

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