|Alex Gonzalez and Cast|
photo by Patty Torrilhon
Click here for more information on this production that runs through May 7th.
"...Grand Hotel...With multiple characters, overlapping storylines, and an opening sequence that is fast paced and very fractured in how it introduces over a dozen characters, including the numerous guests and workers at the hotel, it's an incredibly intriguing musical but also one that is very difficult to get right. Tommy Tune directed and choreographed the Broadway production and his sleek dance moves and continual movement helped form these divergent stories into a seamless whole. Fountain Hills Theater's production has plenty of talent and good direction but with some miscasting and an often overstuffed stage it doesn't always succeed. Set in 1928 Berlin, Grand Hotel ...focuses mainly on a few main guests at the hotel: fading ballerina Elizaveta Grushinskaya (Janine Smith), who is on yet another one of her farewell tours; her devoted friend Raffaela (Hilary Hirsch), who has a big secret; typist Flaemmchen (Tina Khalil), who hopes to find success in Hollywood at any cost; the suave Baron, who also happens to be a jewel thief (Alex Gonzalez); businessman Preysing (Scott Hyder), who is on the brink of bankruptcy; and Otto Kringelein (Roger Prenger), a sickly man who is trying to finally have some life experiences before he dies. The score...features a few soaring ballads and upbeat group numbers. But it also includes many shorter songs and repeated song segments that, along with Luther Davis' fragmented book, don't allow much emotional connection to take place between the audience and the characters. As soon as many of the songs and scenes begin they are quickly over and we move on to another character and storyline. However, the show's focus on the darker side of life with only hints of life's positive aspects and the dizzying nature of these disparate characters and their individual stories all happening at the same time in this one hotel make it a show unlike any other....Director Peter J. Hill and choreographer Noel Irick model most of their contributions off what Tommy Tune did for the Broadway production, creating a keen sense of frenzy and mayhem in the bustling hotel lobby ...A few roles are unfortunately miscast with actors being either somewhat too old or too young, or too over the top for the mostly caricature parts. There are some highlights in the casting, including Janine Smith's excellent portrayal of a ballerina past her prime...Scott Hyder forms an incredibly realistic Preysing...As Flaemmchen, Tina Khalil emotes plenty of pathos for this desperate woman, while Hilary Hirsch is appropriately reserved in showing how she is unable to let her true feelings for Elizaveta be known. Hill's set design creates the feeling of a bustling and slightly glamorous lobby, though the postage stamp sized stage means that there are many moments when the entire cast is on stage and there isn't much room for them all to move....Long after seeing it on Broadway back in 1989 I continue to admire Grand Hotel and how it doesn't try to stick to the traditional format for a Broadway show. While Fountain Hills' production is competent and has a few good performances, there are a few elements that don't allow it to truly soar.. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)