The Grand Tour is a musical by Jerry Herman, Michael Stewart, and Mark Bramble. It started previews Dec 27, 1978, opened Jan 11, 1979, and closed March 4, 1979, it ran for 17 previews and 61 total performances in the Palace Theatre, a Broadway venue. It was based on Franz Werfel's "Jacobowsky and the Colonel". Music and Lyrics were written by Jerry Herman and the book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble. It was directed by Gerald Freedman, and produced by James M. Nederlander, Diana Shumlin, and Jack Schlissel. It starred Joel Grey, Ron Holgate, and Florence Lacey. It received three Tony Award, and one Drama Desk nominations.
The Grand Tour is the least successful of Jerry Herman's Broadway shows, and the least well known. It opened in the season of Sweeney Todd (musical) and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which helped to contribute to its obscurity. It did, however manage to get generally positive reveiws from Time, The New York Post, and Cue Magazine. Of Herman's three "flops" (Dear World, Mack and Mabel, and The Grand Tour), it had the shortest run on Broadway (Mack and Mabel outran it by five) and has not achieved cult status among musical theater aficionados.
The original broadway cast recorded the show at the Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York. It was produced by Mike Berniker and Jerry Herman. Recordings of The Grand Tour are somewhat rare and hard to find. The Lp of the Original Broadway Cast Recording has been spotted and relatively easy to acquire on ebay, with the CD much harder to locate, spotted rarely on such websites as amazon.com
S. L. Jacobowsky relates that his incurable optimism has guided him well through a life of flight from one country to another in search of his place in the world. We are in Paris in the spring of 1940. The Germans are advancing rapidly, and Jacobowsky calmly waits outside a hotel for a man with a car for sale, by which he hopes to leave the capital. We meet two other hotel guests, a stiff-necked Polish aristocrat, Colonel Tadeusz Boleslav Stjerbinsky and his orderly, Szabuniewicz. The Colonel has a list of undercover agents in occupied Poland and is to meet a man with a flower in his lapel in the café of Papa Clairon in the French coastal village of St. Nazaire. The man will arrange passage for him to England so he can turn the papers over to the Polish government in exile. Jacobowsky buys the car but as he cannot drive and has overheard the Colonel's plans, proposes that he and the Colonel travel together. The Colonel will have no part of it, but Jacobowsky finally persuades him to do it For Poland , and our Grand Tour begins.
In St. Cyrille we meet Marianne, a lovely young French woman to whom the Colonel has promised to return. Mme Vauclain tries to persuade Marianne to leave St. Cyrille before the Germans come, but she will do nothing of the kind. Late that night the car bearing Jacobowsky, the Colonel, and Szabuniewicz arrives outside Marianne's house, gives a final gasp, and expires. The Colonel wakens Marianne with music, and although she is reluctant to leave St. Cyrille, Jacobowsky persuades Marianne that the best way to fight for her home is by leaving and remaining free. As she sews the Colonel's papers into her hat for safekeeping, they hurry to catch a local train heading west.
The train is halted by a bombed-out rail section and the group moves on to its next mode of transport, the caravan of the travelling Carnival Manzoni. Jacobowsky and Marianne talk, and we see that he is slowly falling in love with her. When the Carnival stops, Jacobowsky sets up a picnic at the side of the road and entertains Marianne while the Colonel glowers jealously in the background. The furious Colonel challenges Jacobowsky to a duel, and they are only stopped from shooting each other by the sudden arrival of an SS Captain. To save themselves, the four masquerade as performers in the Carnival: The Colonel and Szabuniewicz as two clowns, Jacobowsky as the human cannon-ball, and Marianne as his assistant. Jacobowsky is about to climb into the cannon when the Colonel inadvertently gives the game away and they are forced to fire the cannon and make their escape under cover of its smoke and confusion.
They meet several hours later. Jacobowsky has arranged for a truck hauling nets to take them to the coast, but he will not go. It is time for him to head south to Spain and safety. But in his rush the Colonel has left the papers behind! Moments too late, Jacobowsky finds the papers and inspired by duty and the thought of seeing Marianne once more, he starts off to find her and the Colonel in St. Nazaire.
Jacobowsky, on his way to St. Nazaire aboard a small barge, reflects on the one person who has never been a part of his life. When he arrives at Papa Clairon's café, his friends have not yet shown up. But a wedding is about to take place, and he momentarily mistakes the boutonniered bride's father for the underground contact with the flower in his lapel. The guests are overjoyed to learn that Jacobowsky's father taught biblical history and that he can perform the wedding. As the ceremony is concluded, the guests barely have time to scramble to safety as the Nazis enter. A man who remains behind is revealed to the Nazis as a Gestapo agent, but in fact, he is the Colonel's contact. Realising that the café is no longer safe, he sends a waitress to intercept the Colonel and tell him the meeting place has been changed to 23 Rue Mace, to the relief of Jacobowsky.
Enroute to the café and now very much aware of the missing papers, Marianne, the Colonel, and Szabuniewicz agonise over their loss. The Colonel realises how much like Jacobowsky he is — running, hunted, and in fear of his life. Arriving on a bicycle the waitress tells them of the new meeting place.
At 23 Rue Mace, the convent of the Sisters of Charity, the Germans have come to billet their troops in spite of Mother Madeleine's outrage. The foursome arrive for their meeting and over-power the Germans. The Colonel is forced to kill the SS Captain, and Jacobowsky throws the other soldiers into the coal cellar and gives the Colonel the secret papers. By now the last barriers are down between the two men, and we see that Jacobowsky and the Colonel are friends at last.
Later that night on the wharf outside St. Nazaire they wait for the boat that will take them to England, but there will be room only for two of the four. Szabuniewicz will not go but will return to Poland and fight the Nazis there. Jacobowsky, though he knows that there is no place for him in France, insists that Marianne leave with the Colonel. Jacohowsky's flight will continue, but this time with a difference; if he has found a place in the heart of a Marianne, then what can stop him from finding his place in the world? His Grand Tour is just beginning.
Scenes and Settings
The action takes place 13-18 June 1940 between Paris and the Atlantic Coast of France.
Original Broadway Cast
Awards and Nominations
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman nominee
Joel Grey nominee
Ron Holgate nominee
Joel Grey nominee