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The Grand Tour – 1979

The Grand Tour – 1979

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Synopsis

ACT I S.L. Jacobowsky (Joel Grey) 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 (“I’ll Be Here Tomorrow”). 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 (Ron Holgate) and his orderly, Szabuniewicz (Stephen Vinovich). 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 Clarion 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 (Florence Lacey) 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 (“I Belong Here”). Late that night the car bearing Jocobowsky, the Colonel, and Szabuniewicz arrives outside Marianne’s house, gives a final gasp, and expires. The Colonel wakens Marianne with music (“Marianne”), 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 (“We’re Almost There”). 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 traveling Carnival Manzoni. Jocobowsky 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 (“More and More / Less and Less”). 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 cannonball, and Marianne as his assistant (“One Extraordinary Thing”). 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. ACT II 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 (“Mrs. S.L. Jacobowsky”). 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 (Gene Varrone) for the underground contact with the flower in his lapel (“Wedding Conversation”). The guests are overjoyed to learn that Jacabowsky’s father taught biblical history and that he can perform the wedding (Wedding Conversation / Mazeltov”). 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. Realizing 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 Macé, to the relief of Jacobowsky. Enroute to the café and now very much aware of the missing papers, Marianne, the Colonel, and Szabuniewicz agonize over their loss. The Colonel realizes how much like Jacobowsky he is – running, hunted, and in fear of his life (“I Think, I Think”). Arriving on a bicycle the waitress tells them of the new meeting place. At 23 Rue Macé, the convent of the Sisters of Charity, the Germans have come to billet their troops in spite of Mother Madeline’s outrage. The foursome arrive for their meeting and overpower 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 (“You I Like”). 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. Jacobowsky’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 (“I’ll Be Here Tomorrow – reprise”).

Credits

S.L. Jacobowsky: Joel Grey Mme Bouffier / Peasant / Bride’s Mother: Grace Keagy Cziesno: Jack Karcher Jeannot / Groom: Mark Waldrop Colonel Tadeusz Boleslav Stjerbinsky: Ron Holgate Szabuniewicz: Stephen Vinovich Chauffeur / Peddler: Stan Page Captain Meuller: George Reinholt Mme Vauclain / Mme Manzoni / Bride’s Aunt: Chevi Colton Marianne: Florence Lacey Conductor / Bride’s Father: Gene Varrone Mme Marville / Mother Madeleine: Travis Hudson Hugo / Bargeman: Kenneth Kantor Stiltwalker / Papa Clairon: Jay Pierce Man with flower in lapel: Jay Stuart Claudine: Jo Speros Bride: Michelle Marshall Commissaire de Police: Bob Morrisey Swing Dancers: Bronna Lipton, Jeff Richards Refugees, soldiers, guests, sisters, etc.: Bjarne Buchtrup, Carol Dorian, Kenneth Kantor, Jack Karcher, Debra Lyman, Michelle Marshall, Bob Morrisey, Stan Page, Tina Paul, Jay Waldrop, Jeff Veazey, Bonnie Young.