Kokandy Productions “GRAND HOTEL” Runs Through May 27 at Theatre Wit

Kokandy Productions is pleased to present the final production of its fifth anniversary season: the Tony Award-nominated musical GRAND HOTEL, playing April 15 – May 27, 2018 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Featuring a book by Luther Davis, music and lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest and additional music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, the Kokandy production will be directed by Artistic Producer John D. Glover, with music direction by Aaron Benham and choreography by Brenda Didier. Single tickets are currently available at www.kokandyproductions.com, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office. 

GRAND HOTEL will feature Michelle Jasso as Elizaveta Grushinskaya, Jonathan Schwart as Otto Kringelein, Leryn Turlington as Flaemmchen, Jeremy Trager as Herman Preysing, Erik Dohner as Baron Felix von Gaigern, Jerry M. Miller as Colonel-Doctor Otternschlag and Liz Norton as Raffaela with Nick ArceroParker GuidryDaniel HurstJennifer LedesmaJenny McPhersonHanah Rose NardoneDarren PatinShea PenderJeff PierpointPavi ProczkoMaurice RandleRachel Whyte and Travis Austin Wright.

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It is 1928. The world is between wars, the stock market is booming, Berlin is the center of high life and optimism rules the day. Underneath it all, much is happening at the elegant Grand Hotel, where the lives of its eccentric guests intersect over one defining weekend: 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; an honest businessman gone bad and a typist dreaming of Hollywood success. Based on Vicki Baum’s 1928 play and novel Menschen im Hotel (People in a Hotel) and the subsequent 1932 MGM feature film, issues of life and death, financial ruin, love and murder all converge as people come and go through the lobby of the Grand Hotel.

“The themes of isolationism, broken dreams and cultural differences form the central messages of the Grand Hotel – messages that are all too relevant in our nation’s current social and political climate,” comments director John D. Glover. “My vision is to create a ‘vanished luxury’ and the fever dreams of a world on the brink of depression and war and to illuminate for the theater-goer the harsh realities of each of these characters’ journeys. Especially now, the truth is more important than ever. In the musical, Otto Kringelein concludes that ‘life resides in people, not places.’ The hotel may be grand, but as the director, my job is to ensure we genuinely care about the people who venture through the revolving door….”

The production team for GRAND HOTEL includes Jeffrey D. Kmiec (scenic design), John Nasca (costume design), Alexander Ridgers (lighting design), Michael Patrick (sound design), Johnny Buranosky (props design, asst. director), Eva Breneman (dialect coach), Rachel Flesher (violence and intimacy choreography), Keith Ryan (hair and wig design), Brian Estep (asst. costume design), Cam Turner (asst. choreographer), Lindsay Brown (production manager), Lina Benich (stage manager) and Zach Barr (asst. stage manager).

About the Artists

John D. Glover (Director) has directed Kokandy’s The Last Five Years, Sweet Smell of Success (Jeff Award nomination Best Musical), The Full Monty (Jeff Award nomination Best Musical), and most recently,Tomorrow Morning. For six years, John was responsible for the artistic and fiscal direction of the Theater Company of Purdue University and has directed regionally in Ohio and Indiana, including directing the grand opening production of the Theatre at the Center in Munster. John is the recipient of several Northern Indiana Excellence in Theater Foundation awards (NIETF), including Best Direction of a Musical for Pump Boys and Dinettes (Purdue Theater Company) and Best Direction of a Musical for Floyd Collins (Towle Theater), as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award in Regional Theater. In the “real world,” John is the Chief Operating Officer of a not-for-profit, faith-based senior living ministry.

Aaron Benham (Music Director) previously with Kokandy on Sweet Smell of Success and A Kokandy Christmas. Other Chicago credits include Merrily We Roll Along, Side Show (Porchlight); Marie Christine (BoHo); Bewildered (original score –Hell in a Handbag); Pumpboys and Dinettes (Timberlake Playhouse); also work with About Face, ATC, Bailiwick Chicago, Chicago Opera Theater, Circle, Montana Shakespeare, Piven, Pride Films, Second City, Theo-Ubique and Writer’s. Aaron has two Jeff Awards.

Brenda Didier (Choreographer) is thrilled to be making her Kokandy debut and to be collaborating with John, Aaron, Cam and this incredible group of artists, designers and staff!  Ms. Didier recently directed and co-choreographed Billy Elliot (Porchlight Music Theatre), directed Hair (Mercury Theater Chicago) and My Way, a Tribute to Frank Sinatra (Theatre at the Center). Other credits include direction and/or choreography with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Goodman, Second City mainstage and etc., BoHo, Bailiwick Chicago, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, Cirque Shanghai, T-Mobile’s Home for the Holidays national commercial, Busch Gardens, Virginia, Six Flags Great America, Leo Burnett, numerous industrials, special events and university productions. Ms. Didier has received Jeff Awards in both direction and choreography, After Dark Awards, Broadway World Awards and the National Youth Theatre Award. Ms. Didier is the owner/director of the Lincolnshire Academy of Dance – now in its 20th season.

About Kokandy Productions

Founded in 2010, Kokandy Productions seeks to leverage the heightened reality of musical theater to tell complex and challenging stories, with a focus on contributing to the development of Chicago-based musical theater artists, and raising the profile of Chicago’s non-Equity musical theater community.

The company’s artistic staff is comprised of John D. Glover (Artistic Producer), Allison Hendrix (Producing Artistic Director), Scot T. Kokandy (Executive Producer) and Kory Danielson (Resident Music Director).

For additional information, visit www.kokandyproductions.com.