The Victoria Carriage Restored – A Symbol of Grand Hotel

Victoria Carriage
The Victoria carriage pictured above was once owned by William Vanderbilt and is one of three in the Grand Hotel collection.  William Vanderbilt played a key role in Grand Hotel being built in 1887 as a destination to increase passenger ticket sales. While attending railroad business he often came and stayed at the hotel. He was renown as a great Horseman in many different venues including coaching and horse racing.  The Victoria carriage was Mr. W. Stewart Woodfill’s favorite carriage and is used today in the Grand Hotel logo. Mr. Woodfill bought the hotel in 1933 and owned it until 1979 when the Musser family who own it today became owners. Mr. Woodfill was the uncle of R.D. Musser, Jr, Chairman of Grand Hotel and the great uncle of Dan, Musser III, President and Mimi Cunningham, Vice President.
This winter the Victoria carriage was restored back to it’s original colors with a classic black body, burgundy side panels and running gear, claret pin stripping, and dark blue broadcloth interior.  This color combination was used by the Vanderbilt family on their carriages and became a very common color pattern around the country.  Since the early 1980’s the Victoria carriage had cream wheels and did not resemble the original colors so the Musser Family had it restored  back to the common color pattern.  Darrell Schwartz and the Schwartz family of Nappanee Indiana did the restoration work and have been a long-time friends of Grand Hotel.  Mr. Schwartz said “The carriage had several layers of paint possibly 6 or 7, but it surprisingly still had the original interior.  So the interior is an exact replica of the original.”
Once loaded onto a truck in Indiana the Victoria carriage traveled back to Northern Michigan where it was loaded onto a freight boat for it’s travel back to Mackinac Island and finally back to it’s home at Grand Stables via horse. The other yellow carriage you see below  is the Wagonette. It received regular maintenance this winter as well. Both are back home now at the Grand Stables ready to transport VIP passengers.
If you are on Mackinac Island come visit the Grand Hotel Stables. It is open to the public and free of charge. It is the home of  home of 6 Percheron draft horses and 6 Hackney horses who pull the Grand Hotel carriages. It is also the home to many antique carriages on display.

Grand Hotel Arts Weekend – A Grand Night For Singing with Brad Willcuts

Today’s guest blogger is Brad Willcuts, Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre and Choreography with the Michigan State University Department of Theatre

Brad WillcutsA Grand Night for Singing

It feels like A Grand Night For Singing when you are at Grand Hotel doesn’t it?  The beautiful and encapsulating music of Rogers and Hammerstein makes its way from the Summer Circle Theatre Season in the Department of Theatre at Michigan State University to Grand Hotel this summer.  The setting of Grand Hotel could not provide a more perfect environment for this Broadway musical collection that will surely send your memories soaring with the lofty melodies.

My name is Brad Willcuts and I am the new Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre and Choreography here at Michigan State University.  I am absolutely thrilled to join the amazing team in the Department of Theatre.  As a working professional in musical theatre, I feel right at home at MSU among so many other professional artists who are educating the next generation of theatre artists.

My wife and I moved to Michigan in August and have been acclimating to our new way of life here in this beautiful state.  We often wax romantic about planning trips to visit the outdoors and bounty of this beautiful state as soon as time away from work allows.  However, now I can tell her that work and play can coincide.  I am the Director and Choreographer of A Grand Night for Singing coming to Grand Hotel this June. I am elated to visit Grand Hotel while bringing top quality professional theatre to the people of Mackinac Island and to visit what I have heard so much about since I arrived in Michigan.

Here at Michigan State University, we are hard at work to prepare a musical that is worthy of that beautiful hotel and the young and old lovers, families, kids and kids at heart who appreciate this classic Broadway music.  In fact, we are hard at work on many new aspects in the Department of Theatre and its continued growth in Musical Theatre.

Our Musical Theatre Immersion program continues to grow with more and more opportunities for students to develop their craft:

Grease opens at the Pasant Theatre in the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts on April 15th, running two weeks.  Our production is one of the only in the country with the authorial rights from Samuel French Licensing Company to present the original script from the Broadway run of Grease.

We are excited to continue our collaboration with the MSU Federal Credit Union Institute for Arts & Creativity at Wharton Center on imaGEN.  The imaGEN program is designed to connect our students with top professionals working in musical theatre, specifically in new musical development.  Directors, writers and actors will come to campus to work with students on workshops for public presentation.

Those shows, along with A Grand Night for Singing, allow three musicals for students to take part in only six months!  It is an exciting time in the Department of Theatre and I hope you get a chance to take a look at what we are doing in East Lansing.

As we move into the warmer season, I am getting anxious to visit more of Michigan.  I am a native of Washington State and am very happy to call myself a resident of Michigan now (it’s official, I have the new license to prove it).  I’ll see you at the show!

Join us for A Grand Night for Singing on Friday, June 24th as a feature of the 22nd annual Arts Weekend presented by the Michigan State University College of Arts & Letters.