It started life in 1929 as "Menschen im Hotel" ("People in the Hotel"), the first novel by Austrian writer Vicki Baum, but its storyline — set in the Grand Hotel in Berlin in 1928 — first became widely known through 1932's Oscar-winning film "Grand Hotel" starring silver-screen idols John Barrymore, Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford.

In what's now known as a "grand hotel" plot genre, Baum's book and the various productions it has inspired all center around coincidental but fateful encounters between guests, staff and others — including fading prima ballerina Elizaveta Grusinskaya, ruined aristocrat-turned-thief Baron Felix Von Geigern, a terminally ill Jewish accountant named Otto Kringelein and Flammchen, an ambitious typist.

Despite the movie's success, "Grand Hotel" didn't resurface until 1989, when a Broadway musical by Luther Davis won five Tony awards, including best direction and choreography for Tommy Tune — the living legend invited over here in 1993 to help the all-female Takarazuka musical theater troupe stage this country's first-ever "Grand Hotel."