WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews ‘Grand Hotel’ at Signature Theatre
It was a 1932 Best Picture winner where Greta Garbo famously cried, “I want to be alone!”
Now, pack your bags and check into “Grand Hotel” at Signature Theatre through May 19.
Adapted by Luther Davis from the 1929 novel by Vicki Baum, the story is set in 1928 Berlin, where the bustling Grand Hotel plays host to an eclectic array of guests and hotel staff. This includes an aging ballerina, a destitute baron, an aspiring-starlet typist and ailing bookkeeper.
“It’s this huge, beautiful, crumbling world,” actor Bobby Smith told WTOP. “Different people come and experience life in a way they have not experienced it before. They cross paths, they meet each other, they find their similarities and time is running out in everyone’s life.”
That not only applies to the brisk 90-minute runtime, but also to Europe between two wars.
“We’re about to get into the ’30s and know the onslaught of the second world war is coming,” co-star Nkrumah Gatling told WTOP. “Also, they’re recovering as a group from the first world war, which just ended not too long ago. So, we’re kind of in the in-between time. It’s basically how they all affect each other, how you can walk into a place and your life and the things you say and the actions that you take can have profound ramifications on somebody else’s life.”
These individuals’ unique back stories, pressing needs and future desires fuel the piece.
“The Baron is part of a dying class,” Gatling said. “He’s had to resort to thievery to continue keeping up appearances, but he’s still a man with a heart of gold. He wants to resist that way of life that he has to be in now and he does that in his kindness to others. He never goes all bad. He’s the bad guy you’re rooting for like, ‘He may rob me, but man, he’s so charming!’”
Smith’s role is far different as the bookish Otto Kringelein living out the twilight of his life.
“Otto is a book keeper who finds out he hasn’t long to live,” Smith said. “He decides he wants to cash everything in and come to the Grand Hotel and live his life to the fullest before he passes away. … There’s a certain joy to everyone there, whether they’re losing their lives or addicted to something or …read more
Source:: Wtop – Entertainment