Grand Hotel, this year’s Senior School musical debuted on Tuesday evening at the McPherson Playhouse. Set in the 1920s, the era was roaring, and Berlin was the centre of high life. Life at the Grand Hotel was told through multiple storylines, as hotel guests struggle with finances, health, social standing, and matters of the heart.
Andy Erasmus, starring as the doctor, opened the play with a strong, baritone voice in a number that introduced the main characters staying at the hotel. Playing a war veteran scarred by his experiences, Andy narrated the story with a singing voice perfectly suited to the role.
Then we met Flaemmchen, a young typist seeking a life of glamour in Hollywood. The young bubbly character was played by Charlotte McGee who showed true stage presence in every one of her song-and-dance numbers throughout the show.
Two of the lead men, Josh Evans and Paul Davison, were key romantic figures in the show and they made it easy to fall in love with these fellows along with their female love interests on stage. Both actors sang their hearts out, after all how else can you sing about love?
Chris Colquhoun starred as Preysing, who brought depth and menace to his role of a decent man gone wrong in Berlin’s finest hotel.
Rachel Baptiste, who starred as Raffaella belted out songs with her unique and polished voice, surprising the audience that the petite-framed girl could be such a powerful singer.
Will Jevne and Benji Schaan were hysterical as the Jimmy One and Jimmy Two. The boys had the chemistry and comedic timing of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, as they waved about their jazz hands in an over-the-top comedic dance duet.
A grand performance was given by Jayne Hammond, who played an aging dancer desperate for love. Jayne sang with clarity, strength and looked at ease on the stage.
The chorus sang every lyric with high sprits and passion and their energy proved they were enjoying every minute of being in the spotlight.
The talented cast was accompanied by the remarkable student orchestra, who played almost continuously for the entire two hours of the show, having few breaks between musical numbers. For this reason, the pit was a little more cozy than usual in order to accommodate such a demanding musical score. With only five members of the orchestra having experience playing in a show, the Broadway-sized ensemble proved they had instrumental talent.
Overall, the show has been a grand success and has been the talk of the school all week. If you haven’t had the chance yet, it’s not too late – Grand Hotel ends on Saturday and there is a 1:30 matinee in addition to the evening performance.