Those of you who saw the performers from “Grand Hotel” tease the production at the Boulder Jewish Festival may be wondering if it’s worth seeing the entire show. The answer is a resounding “yes.” Broadway in Boulder Studios lives up to its name with this accomplished and polished production playing through June 27 at the Dairy Center for the Arts.
Now you may be wondering if you should trust me on this. You should. I have an MA in theater from Tufts, moved to Boulder in 1976 to pursue a PhD in theater and spent many years reviewing theater for the Boulder Daily Camera. I love good theater, but an overdose of mediocre productions has jaded me.
So when I tell you the sheer professionalism of “Grand Hotel” came as a welcome surprise, its high praise indeed. After all, the cast members are local high school students and recent graduates. The acting was almost universally first-rate and the singing was exceptional. It is a pleasure to see so many young, talented performers working with discipline and precision.
Fairview grad Chris Douglas stood out as the Baron, a penniless nobleman who can’t resist the urge to be noble. Danny Irwin, an even more recent Fairview grad, was delightful as the Jewish nebbish hoping to live his last days in high style. (Irwin is double cast in the role with current Boulder High student Brian Flores.) Impressive in smaller parts, Avery Sobczak, Jordan Ford and Sam Urdang made the most of their musical numbers.
Angela Gaylor’s musical staging and Peter Davison’s choreography, the sets and costumes, and the live music under the direction of Dan Graeber all work together seamlessly to enhance the theatrical experience.
“Grand Hotel” is a biting, bold piece of theater that owes much in mood and tone to “Cabaret,” a similar story of escapism in 1920’s Germany as storm clouds gather on the horizon. Set in 1928 in the finest hotel in Berlin, “Grand Hotel” is the story of opulence and decadence, of desperation and degradation, of high hopes and dashed dreams.
Director David Ayers, a Broadway veteran himself, understands the emotional punch of the musical, and has created a compelling and cohesive production that hits the play’s dark as well as its bright notes. In fact, this production hits all the right notes.