Amid the elegance, charm and wit of Vienna, VBW's new romantic comedy explodes in a blaze of colour and verve fuelled by the sharp insights and catchy melodies of Rainhard Fendrich.
Rainhard Fendrich, a true son of Vienna, has been a fixture in the Austrian pop charts since 1980. His songs, catchy and keenly observant, often encapsulate what it means to be Viennese and Austrian. Now they form the lifeblood that flows through this very Viennese tale of glamour, ambition, friendship, deceit, love and, of course, cake.
"It's where I'm from, where I belong" sings Hollywood superstar Emma Carter, the leading character, in Fendrich's song I AM FROM AUSTRIA. But how many of us can say that with certainty nowadays? We are more mobile than ever before. Where can we really call home, where can we truly be ourselves? Emma left her native Austria years ago for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Now she returns on a promotional trip, a global superstar. All she wants to do is get her PR job done and leave the country again as soon as possible. And no way does she want any fans or press hassling her! But a stray tweet puts paid to that idea, and she is besieged by paparazzi and hangers-on. Her anger at this blunder soon gives way to more tender feelings as she falls in love not only with the hotel managers' son Josi Edler, but also with her native country. At last she can say for certain where she belongs...
VBW's writing team of Titus Hoffmann and Christian Struppeck took on the gargantuan task of whittling down the several hundred songs in Rainhard Fendrich's catalogue to 21, most of which were chart-toppers. With their profound, wry lyrics and catchy melodies they might have been written for a musical. Around these songs, arranged by Michael Reed, the authors have woven a humorous and touching story that is itself a declaration of love that celebrates Vienna, both old and new, and evokes all the history, culture, charm and stunning scenery that gives Austria its own special magic. Driving pop/rock interspersed with soaring ballads reflect both the stylistic breadth of Fendrich's music and the emotional turmoil of love.
When we return to a place we know after a long absence we often see it in a new light, and this spectacular show certainly gives the audience a new perspective. Pulsating dance routines with ever-changing costumes whisk them from the superficiality of tabloid gossip and the glitterati to the strobes and sleaze of night in the city, the splendour of the Alps and the sparkle of the Opera Ball. An ingeniously staged sequence takes them through the streets of Vienna in a fiacre with Emma and Josi, while a brilliantly imagined and executed helicopter ride flies them high across the mountains of Austria to a cosy alpine cabin. And all the action revolves – quite literally, at times! – around the luxurious Edler Hotel, cunningly constructed to resemble the cake it is famous for, a cake that plays a key role in the love story that unfolds.
I AM FROM AUSTRIA triggered the highest number of pre-sales and sales since record keeping began, and its run has already been extended for a second season due to the persistent great demand.
It seems that audiences, like Emma, just can't help falling in love with Austria all over again.
Success Story & Production Notes
Chart-topping hits of singer-songwriter Rainhard Fendrich weaved into a sharp-witted love story.
Greatly successful musical scoring uppermost pre-sales and sales figures.
Even before its world premiere at the Raimund Theater in September 2018, VBW's newest in-house production I AM FROM AUSTRIA broke sales records, triggering the highest pre-sales and sales since record keeping began and its run was already extended for a second period due to the persistent great demand. The superbly successful musical with the hit singles by Austrian Pop/Rock legend Rainhard Fendrich and written by VBW's Artistic director Christian Struppeck and Titus Hoffmann is playing to a full house night after night. It seems that audiences, like leading character Emma, just can’t help falling in love with Austria all over again.
After DON CAMILLO & PEPPONE, THE VISIT and REBECCA at the Open Air Theater in Tecklenburg, Germany, I AM FROM AUSTRIA is the next VBW production directed by Andreas Gergen, renowned opera director of the Salzburger Landestheater from 2011-2017. With its superb choreography by Kim Duddy (THE BODYGUARD, WEST SIDE STORY, HAIR, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR), magnificent set design (Stephan Prattes) and shiny costume design (Uta Loher and Conny Lüders), I AM FROM AUSTRIA evolves into a delightful explosion of a colours, sparkles and entertaining amusement.
“Full marks for the set design, full marks for the actors in the leading roles, full marks for directing and choreography”
“Energetic ensemble numbers (...) supply the evening with plenty of dancing, plenty of glitter and plenty of pace. ... Delightfully over-the-top revue with plenty of local colour.”
“Cheers, callsof ‘Bravo!’, and standing ovations from the delighted community of fans at the Raimund Theater!”
“Director Gergen unleashes his full force, delivering verve, pace and a performance as smooth as clockwork.”
“Kim Duddy’s choreography is zippy and imaginative.”
“Director Andreas Gergen is full of good ideas, alternating large crowd dance scenes with intimate close-ups, all at a snappy pace. ... The set design was absolutely brilliant.”
Credits & Keyfacts
- WORLD PREMIERE:
16 September 2017, Austria / Vienna (Raimund Theater/VBW)
- MUSIC & LYRICS:
- BOOK & IDEA:
- BOOK & CREATIVE DEVELOPLMENT:
- ARRANGEMENT & MUSICAL SUPERVISOR:
- SET DESIGN:
- COSTUME DESIGN:
Uta Loher, Conny Lüders
- LIGHTING DESIGN:
- SOUND DESIGN:
- VIDEO DESIGN:
Emma is a young and glamorous Hollywood star who returns to her native Austria after many years away to promote her latest movie. Charismatic, spontaneous and with a great sense of fun, she feels somewhat trapped by her image as a rom-com star and yearns for more challenging roles. She has made many sacrifices to succeed in Hollywood. One of the reasons she left Austria was family quarrels, and she has not spoken to her parents since. But now she realises what she has been missing as she falls in love with her homeland all over again – thanks in no small measure to Josi Edler. It seems that home really is where the heart is.
The son of the hotel owners Wolfgang and Romy, he is full of ideas for dragging the historic and traditional hotel into the 21st century. Josi is fun-loving, impulsive and passionate. Despite the sumptuous surroundings he lives and works in, he never forgets those worse off than himself and secretly runs a soup kitchen for the homeless. His whole world is turned upside down when he falls head over heels in love with Emma.
Romy is co-owner of the Hotel Edler and Josi's mother. The hotel, she says, is her life – much to her husband's chagrin – and she has her heart set on its rising in the hotel rating system and becoming a five-star establishment. Flighty and fickle in her youth, she is now the consummate professional, devoted to preserving the hotel's good name and traditional values. She has no time for her son's innovative ideas and is horrified when he becomes too familiar with their star guest, Emma Carter. Her dedication to duty – and discretion – has even taken precedence over her own marriage and personal happiness.
With Romy, his wife of 25 years, Wolfgang has worked hard to make the hotel a top address for well-heeled visitors to Vienna. A loving and supportive father to Josi, he nevertheless has reservations about his son's plans for the hotel's future, although he is less dismissive of them than his wife – not the only source of friction between the two. The growing distance between them pains him greatly.. Compassionate and kindly, he fights to save not just his own relationship, but also supports Josi when his son thinks Emma has rejected him.
Emma's manager is a hard-nosed, cynical businessman and creator of the "Emma Carter" brand. Fiercely protective of his star asset, he is not afraid of resorting to threats and deceit to keep her in line. Without her knowledge, he engineers her engagement to Pablo García, a man she has never even met.
The elderly hotel concierge who seems to have been installed there at the same time as the plumbing. She has a razor-sharp wit, and always has the last word. Despite a measure of cynicism she is kind-hearted and offers practical and emotional support to the hotel staff. There is no artist or star that she has not at least had the pleasure of meeting – even if the person in question died in the 19th century. She still has an eye for the boys and is "the soul of discretion".
The young bellboy and Josi's friend. Enthusiastic, big-hearted, ambitious but naive. It is his naivety that sets the train of events in motion. Passionate about cars, but reckless.
Pablo is from Argentina and world footballer of the year. He is drop-dead gorgeous – and knows it – and a Latin sex symbol with charm in abundance. The darling of sports journalists and female fans alike, he, like Emma, reveals the true love of his life at the Opera Ball.
“It's where I'm from, where I belong”
A superstar arrives
The famous Hollywood star Emma Carter returns to her native Austria for the first time after a long absence. She will be staying incognito at the Edler Hotel, a renowned establishment with an emphasis on tradition, where the preparations for her arrival are in full swing. Romy Edler, the owner and manager, warns the staff, especially Elfie Schratt the concierge, of the need for absolute discretion, in the hope that a perfect stay for Emma Carter will bring the hotel the fifth star she has wanted for so long. Unfortunately, Felix Moser, the hotel’s bellboy, has already tweeted the news – without considering the consequences – and the hotel’s welcome reception for the star is hijacked not only by the press but by the Viennese smart set. Felix’s friend Josi, the son of Romy and Wolfgang Edler, takes the blame for the indiscretion and is scolded by his parents. They insist he put things right in order to preserve the hotel’s reputation.
Josi’s modernisation plans and ideas, such as getting the football star Pablo García to open the hotel’s new fitness centre, meet with little enthusiasm, particularly where Romy is concerned. Emma Carter and her manager, Richard Rattinger, are outraged by the hotel’s lack of professionalism. Emma wants to leave immediately and cancel her planned PR appearance at the Opera Ball. As a gesture of apology for the faux pas on her arrival, Josi brings an Edlertorte, one of the hotel’s famous cakes, to Emma’s room. The two hit it off immediately and Josi offers to show Emma around the hotel.
Young love's rocky road
Meanwhile, at the hotel bar, Romy complains that her husband, Wolfgang, is not understanding or supportive enough. Wolfgang has been behaving very secretively and is unable to counter her accusation that he is having a midlife crisis. In the meantime, Josi and Emma arrive at the patisserie’s cold storage room. They go in, and the door suddenly closes behind them. Trapped in the cold storage room, Emma tells Josi how she became a Hollywood star and ends up asking him to accompany her to the Opera Ball. The two are eventually freed by Josi’s parents and Richard, who has been imagining horrific kidnapping scenarios and flinging accusations at everyone. Thoroughly worked up, he forbids Emma to have anything to do with Josi. In the hotel lobby, Richard enquires about Pablo García’s arrival. He tells Josi that he doesn’t stand a chance against Pablo, which is why Pablo and not Josi will be taking Emma to the Opera Ball. Josi is deeply dejected. At the hotel bar, his father tells him the story of the rocky start to his relationship with Josi’s mother, Romy, and advises Josi not to give up. Encouraged, Josi seeks Emma out and together the two of them sneak out to explore Vienna by night, with no regard for their own security. The last stop is at a soup kitchen for the homeless that Josi runs. Back at the hotel, Richard is furious and worried about Emma. His fears are justified when on the way home Emma is recognised and attacked by dark figures.
A night of passion
The police are busily searching for Emma Carter and Josi Edler. The two have spent the night in Felix’s attic room, having been rescued and sheltered by him. Over breakfast, Emma tells Josi about her family and her difficult relationship with her parents. Josi lends Felix his car in gratitude for their rescue, while he himself has to rush back to the hotel for the grand opening of the fitness centre. The police search is unsuccessful and all they find is a ladle from Josi’s soup kitchen. In the manager’s office, Richard gives Romy and Wolfgang hell because there is still no sign of Emma.
Romy and Wolfgang’s marital crisis worsens. Romy suspects that her husband has a mistress. At the fitness centre, the press are waiting impatiently for the grand opening to begin, when Elfie receives a phone call from Emma, telling her that Josi is on his way. Until he arrives, she and Pablo entertain the media representatives.
Emma has slipped backed into the hotel and together with Elfie presents Josi with a surprise: A helicopter ride to the mountain cabin belonging to Emma’s family. Emma falls in love with Austria, her homeland, all over again. After a night of passion, Emma wants to go skiing the next morning, but finds the press waiting for her on the doorstep. Shocked by the incident, Emma accuses Josi of tipping off the media. When Richard suddenly turns up at the door to rescue her, she is relieved and begs him to take her away.
The opera ball and startling revelations
At the Edler Hotel, the preparations for the Opera Ball are in full swing. Elfie still has to find a tailcoat that fits Pablo and Felix is devastated because he has wrecked Josi’s car. When Josi gets back to the hotel, he tries to talk to Emma, but Richard fends him off and tells him that Emma is going to announce her engagement to Pablo García at the Opera Ball. Wolfgang and Romy find the heartbroken Josi in front of the Imperial Suite. At first, they reproach him for his inappropriate behaviour towards a hotel guest and superstar, but then they realise that Josi is genuinely in love with Emma and attempt to comfort him. They also promise their support for his work with the homeless.
Wolfgang spoils his own planned surprise by revealing to Romy that he has booked them a holiday on the Strada del Sole. Emma refuses to announce her engagement to Pablo at the Opera Ball. However, when Richard tells her that in that case he will not prevent the publication of the suggestive photos taken at the cabin, she gives in. In the lobby, Felix and Josi come across Elfie, who has good news for Josi. Emma wants to see him. They agree to meet at the patisserie. Josi confesses his love for Emma, but she can see no future for them as a couple. At the Opera Ball, however, instead of announcing her engagement, Emma reveals that she has found the love of her life.
Pablo also has exciting news: he finally comes out about his boyfriend in Argentina. But that is by no means all: the Edler Hotel is awarded its fifth star and Wolfgang and Romy finally take time off and hand the hotel over to Josi.