A Musical Whodunnit
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Book by Rupert Holmes
Original Book and Concept by Peter Stone
Tues 29 Oct – Sat 2 Nov 2019
CURTAINS was created in the early 2000s and first performed in the USA in 2006.
The story is set in the late 1950s. A cast and crew are in the process of creating a new musical at a theatre in Boston when their leading lady is murdered at the end of the first night performance. Homicide Lieutenant Frank Cioffi arrives to investigate the crime and everyone is locked in the theatre until the mystery is solved. KANDER and EBB are the team behind ground-breaking shows CABARET and CHICAGO, but don’t expect anything with the same depth, power and impact here. CURTAINS is essentially a candy-floss piece of light entertainment. That’s not to say it’s a bad way to while away a couple of hours, but don’t expect anything earth shattering.
CURTAINS is a nostalgic piece with a deep love of musical theatre at its core. The songs feel familiar, and it is a tribute to KANDER and EBB that they have so effectively captured the essence of old Broadway. The show almost tries to do too many things at once. It is an affectionate tongue-in-cheek tribute to musicals, but, despite some funny lines and sharp moments, never quite pushes the send-up far enough. The ‘whodunnit’ element gives the show its structure, but we don’t care enough about any of the victims and it all feels a bit contrived. There are romantic storylines to be resolved, but they feel too simple and straightforward.
This production is, for the most part, very skillful and displays high values throughout. I am no great fan of JASON MANFORD’s stand-up work or TV persona, but he does a solid job as detective Cioffi and is an engaging central presence as the stage-struck, super-fan investigator. ORE ODUBA gives good support as composer Aaron Fox and is vocally strong in his musical numbers. For me, however, the female leads were the standout performers. CARLEY STENSON was excellent as lyricist and stand-in leading lady Georgia Hendricks, LEAH WEST did a very good job as Lieutenant Cioffi’s love interest Nikki Harris, and REBECCA LOCK is brilliantly abrasive and bitingly funny as producer Carmen Bernstein. The rest of the large cast give very strong support.
The band, led by Musical Director ALEX BEETSCHEN, are excellent and deliver the score with gusto. Director PAUL FOSTER creates a diverting and entertaining production which the Sheffield lyceum enjoyed.