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Grand Hotel is a musical with a book by Luther Davis and music and lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest, with additional lyrics and music by Maury Yeston.

Based on the 1929 Vicki Baum novel and play, Menschen im Hotel (People in a Hotel), and the subsequent 1932 MGM feature film, the musical focuses on events taking place over the course of a weekend in an elegant hotel in 1928 Berlinmarker and the intersecting stories of the eccentric guests of the hotel, including a fading prima ballerina; a fatally ill Jewish bookkeeper, who wants to spend his final days living in luxury; a young, handsome, but destitute Baron; a cynical doctor; and a typist dreaming of Hollywoodmarker success.

Big-name cast replacements, including Cyd Charisse, helped the show become the first American musical since Big River to top 1,000 performances on Broadway. The show's 1989 Broadway production garnered 12 Tony Award nominations, winning five, including best direction and choreography for Tommy Tune.


Menschen im Hotel marked the beginning of the career of popular Austrian novelist Baum in 1929. She dramatized the novel for the Berlin stage later in the same year. The play became a hit, and its English-language adaptation enjoyed a huge success in New York in the early 1930s and was made in to the blockbuster 1932 Academy Award-winning film, Grand Hotel, starring John Barrymore, Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford.

At the Grand

Davis, Wright, and Forrest first adapted Baum's story in 1958 under the title At the Grand, changing the setting from 1928 Berlin to contemporary Romemarker and transforming the ballerina into an opera singer closely resembling Maria Callas to accommodate Joan Diener, who was scheduled to star under the direction of her husband Albert Marre. All of them had collaborated on the earlier Kismet and anticipated another success, but Davis' book strayed too far from the story familiar to fans of the film. When Paul Muni agreed to portray Kringelein, the role was changed and expanded, with the character becoming a lowly hotel employee whose stay in a hotel suite is kept secret from the management. Flaemmchen became a dancing soubrette, Preysing and his dramatic story line were eliminated completely, and two deported Americanmarker gangsters were added for comic relief.

At the Grand opened to mixed reviews and good business in Los Angelesmarker and San Franciscomarker, but when an unhappy Muni refused to extend his preliminary contract and left the production, producer Edwin Lester decided to cancel the Broadwaymarker opening scheduled for September 25, 1958, and everyone moved on to other projects.

Grand Hotel

More than three decades later, Davis, Wright, and Forrest decided to dust off their original material and give the show another try. This time it was placed in the hands of director/choreographer Tommy Tune, who envisioned it as a two-hour, non-stop production comprising dialogue scenes, musical numbers, and dance routines overlapping and at times competing with each other, thereby capturing the mood of a bustling hotel where something is happening at all times. Seven songs from At the Grand were incorporated into what was now called Grand Hotel, although two were dropped during the Bostonmarker tryout.

Original poster
The creative team proved to be too attached to the original material and resisted every change that Tune proposed. "Bluntly stated, the show didn’t work. With the exception of the choreography and the physical trappings, the show was deadly," Tune recalled in his memoir Footnotes. Frustrated, he finally fired Wright and Forrest and brought in Maury Yeston in 1989, with whom he had worked in Nine, to compose six new songs and revise others (including rewriting over half the lyrics in the show). He also hired Peter Stone to doctor Davis' book, although Stone refused official credit for his work. Tune later commented, "I hate it when it gets ugly on a show. It always does though, and you've gotta be hearty to survive. If it's not the writers, then it's the producers or the cast. There is always turmoil, but if you're lucky some good can come of it all. I have always tried to be kind to everyone, but please don’t mistake my kindness for weakness."

Broadway and subsequent productions

After thirty-one previews, Grand Hotel opened on November 12, 1989 at the Martin Beck Theatre, and later transferred to the George Gershwinmarker to complete its total run of 1,017 performances. The show is played without an intermission. The original cast included Liliane Montevecchi as Elizaveta Grushinskaya, Michael Jeter as Otto Kringelein (garnering much praise and several awards), David Carroll as the Baron, Timothy Jerome as Preysing, John Wylie as Otternschlag, Bob Stillman as Erik, and Jane Krakowski as Flaemmchen. Replacements later in the run included Cyd Charisse (in her Broadway debut at age 70) and Zina Bethune as Elizaveta, Austin Pendleton and Chip Zien as Otto, and John Schneider, Rex Smith, and Brent Barrett as the Baron. The production captured 12 Tony nominations, winning five awards, including best direction and choreography for Tommy Tune.

The release of the much in-demand original cast recording was delayed nearly two years due to legal disputes with Wright and Forrest. By the time the situation was resolved, Carroll was seriously ill with AIDS, and died in the bathroom of the recording studio early in the session. Brent Barrett, who had appeared as the Baron both on Broadway and in the national tour, sang the role for the cast album, which was released by RCA Victor.

The first West Endmarker production opened on July 6, 1992 at the Dominion Theatremarker, where it ran for slightly less than four months. In 2004, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio starred as Elizaveta in a small-scale production directed by Michael Grandage at the Donmar Warehousemarker.


The roaring '20s are still in high gear, and Berlin is the center of high life. Everyone tries to convince fading prima ballerina Elizaveta Grushinskaya that she still can and must dance, especially her confidante and dresser, who would have to come up with a lot of money if the dancer failed to show up for her engagements. She does not recapture her former glory, but she falls in love with the Baron.

Jewish bookkeeper Otto Kringelein, who is fatally ill, wants to spend his final days living in the lap of luxury, and Baron Felix Von Gaigern, young, good-looking and destitute, uses his charisma to help him secure a room while stiffing a tough gangster pretending to be a chauffeur. Meanwhile, Hermann Preysing, the general manager of a failing textile mill, hears that the merger with a Bostonmarker company is off, spelling financial ruin, but tries not to lie to his stockholders. However, he presses his secretary, Flaemmchen, for sex. She dreams of Hollywood stardom and fears she might be pregnant, but flirts with the Baron. The Baron tries to steal from Elizaveta Grushinskaya in order to pay back the gangster but when instead falls in love with her when she comes into her room.

Two African-American entertainers sing at the bar, while assistant concierge Erik, who is about to become a father, tries in vain to get off work so that he can join his wife at the hospital. Preysing and the Baron get into a fight when the Baron was in his room trying to steal his wallet, but heard the struggles of Flaemmchen and walks into her room to defend her while still holding Preysing's wallet, Preysing sees the Baron holding the wallet and realizes that the Baron was going to steal it. After a struggle Preysing kills the Baron with the gangster's gun. Preysing is arrested. Grushinskaya's heart is broken when the Baron never shows up at the train station(they were going to run off and get married). Flaemmchen falls in love with Otto Kringelein and he with her. Cynical Doctor Otternschlag, a morphine addict still suffering from World War I wounds, notes “Grand Hotel, Berlin. Always the same – people come, people go – One life ends while another begins – one heart breaks while another beats faster – one man goes to jail while another goes to Paris – always the same.... I’ll stay – one more day.”

Song list

  • The Grand Parade (Yeston)
  • Some Have, Some Have Not (Wright/Forrest)
  • As It Should Be (Wright/Forrest)
  • At the Grand Hotel (Yeston)/Table With a View (Wright/Forrest)
  • Maybe My Baby Loves Me (Wright/Forrest)
  • Fire and Ice (Wright/Forrest)
  • Twenty Two Years (Yeston)/Villa On a Hill (Wright/Forrest)
  • I Want To Go To Hollywood (Yeston)
  • Everybody's Doing It (Yeston)
  • As It Could Be (Wright/Forrest)
  • The Crooked Path (Wright/Forrest)
  • Who Couldn't Dance With You? (Wright/Forrest)
  • No Encore (Wright/Forrest)
  • Fire and Ice (Wright/Forrest)

  • Love Can't Happen (Yeston)
  • What You Need (Wright/Forrest)
  • Bonjour Amour (Yeston)
  • H-A-P-P-Y (Wright/Forrest)
  • We'll Take A Glass Together (Wright/Forrest)
  • I Waltz Alone (Wright/Forrest)
  • H-A-P-P-Y (Reprise)
  • Roses at the Station (Yeston)
  • What You Need (Wright/Forrest)
  • How Can I Tell Her? (Wright/Forrest)
  • At the Grand Hotel (Reprise)
  • As It Should Be (Wright/Forrest)
  • The Grand Parade/Some Have, Some Have Not (Reprise)
  • The Grand Waltz (Wright/Forrest)

Awards and nominations

  • Tony Award for Best Musical (nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical (nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Original Score (nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical (Carroll, nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical (Montevecchi, nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Jeter, winner)
  • Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Krakowski, nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Scenic Design (nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Costume Design (winner)
  • Tony Award for Best Lighting Design (winner)
  • Tony Award for Best Choreography (winner)
  • Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical (winner)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Carroll, nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical (Jeter, winner)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Krakowski, nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography (winner)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical (winner)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestration (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design (winner)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design (winner)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design (nominee)


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