You have the legendary casting director Anne Vosser to blame for my Blog this week! Not only did she kindly give me my first job from college (Pickwick choreographed by Gillian Lynne) but she recently posted this YouTube clip from the West End opening of Grand Hotel at the Dominion theatre in 1992 which lurched my sleepy Sunday brain into action!
I loved this production and took my student self along to it many a time. It was a ground breaking musical and the one and only instance I waited at the stage door to meet a cast member. Her name was Lynette Perry who played Flaemmchen. She was this leggy Broadway goddess who danced up a storm and broke my 19 year old heart. I still to this day have her photograph framed, I remember telling her that I wanted to be a choreographer and she was so encouraging with her kind words and positivity.
I, of course, watched the Youtube clip with great intent and it got me thinking just how much musical theatre has changed in a relatively short time. Would you ever see a large scale production such as Grand Hotel with no commercial names these days daring to open at the 2000 seat Dominion Theatre? The cast were all spellbinding yet sadly unknown to the mass audience. No one from a soap opera, no ‘celebrity’ from Big Brother just actors who were brilliantly accomplished. Compare the shows creativity, it’s sheer beauty and skill to the Doiminion’s current resident War Of The Worlds which is full of commercial names and you can see just how much times have indeed changed. I wonder if a time will ever come back when great pieces of work will triumph over stunt casting and juke box musicals? Oh to go back to a period where quality is high and producers are brave enough to cast trained talent and not just someone who ate a Kangaroo’s privates in the jungle?!
I for one mourn the passing of productions like this, the memory Grand Hotel will live with me forever. I wonder if in 25 years some new choreographer will be busy blogging (or whatever the future version of that will be) about how he misses productions of today??
So ‘Let’s Raise A Glass’ to times gone by and in the interim I’m going to pay homage to Grand Hotel with a quick Charleston in my kitchen whilst cooking my supper…. I publicly apologise to my poor downstairs neighbour!