Signature Theatre's "environmental" staging of the musical, Grand Hotel — spilling from the stage to the seating and out into the lobby — checks out Oct. 7 following a run that began Aug. 21 in Arlington, VA.
Outlaws, a Billy-the-Kid musical which was to open the nonprofit's season in August-September, was bumped to the 2002-2003 season due to scheduling conflicts. Grand Hotel was borrowed from the January 2002 slot The musicalization of the Vicki Baum novel — about all levels of society struggling in the Berlin playground of the rich — played under the direction of critically-acclaimed Signature artistic director Eric Schaeffer, known for his Sondheim revivals, Broadway's Putting It Together and London's The Witches of Eastwick.
Karma Camp choreographs Grand Hotel in Signature's flexible 160 seat space. The staging will be environmental, with action and set (by Jim Kronzer) extending into the audience and the lobby. Anne Kennedy created costumes, Chris Lee is lighting designer and Jon Kalbfleisch musical directs the score by Robert Wright, George Forrest and Maury Yeston.
The 1989 Broadway production of the show won 5 Tony Awards and ran 1,018 performances, and a national tour was spawned. A cast album was recorded. The intermissionless Broadway show and tour was embraced by audiences for its humanity (everybody's yearning for love, sex and/or money) and directorial vision (actors remained on stage at all times and setting was indicated with props and minimal scenic elements). The Signature company includes Steven Cupo (the Colonel), Lynn Filusch (Raffaela), Deanna Harris (Flaemmchen), Will Gartshore (the Baron), Patricia Pearce Gentry (Grushinskaya), Ty Hreben (Preysing), Michael Sharp (Otto), Dana Krueger (as Trude), with Chrystyna Dail, Greg Etling, Eleasha Gamble, Jan Johns, Wendell Jordan, Sean McLaughlin, Michael Omohundro, Katherine Schickert, Tom Simpson, Stephen Gregory Lee Smith, Stephawn P. Stephens, R. Scott Thompson and Tim Tourbin.
Tickets are $28-$30. Signature is five minutes outside of Washington, DC, at 3806 S. Four Mile Run Drive, in Arlington. For information, call (800) 955-5566 or visit www.sig online.org.
— By Kenneth Jones