Curtains

Who knew murder could be so much fun?

By Andrew Andrews

Elaine Young in Rupert Holmes, John Kander & Fred Ebb’s musical comedy whodunit Curtains, directed and choreographed by Thomas Netter for Up and One Productions. Original photos by Oliva Michaels Bogert.

Faded film star Jessica Crenshaw has just passed out backstage after her horrendous opening night performance in a new musical about a cowboy version of Robin Hood.

Eager to move the show from Boston to Broadway, the director decides to replace the ailing star with the show’s songwriter, Georgia Hendricks, despite opposition from the cast and Georgia’s co-writing ex-husband Aaron Fox.

Just as most of the actors threaten to leave the production, police detective Frank Cioffi shows up to announce that Crenshaw has been murdered, everyone in the company is a suspect, and none of them are permitted to leave the theatre until he solves the crime.

Cioffi, a community theatre performer himself, spends as much time trying to fix the show as he does deducing the murderer, falling mutually in love with a performer (and suspect) named Niki in the process.

With music by Kander & Ebb (better known for the long-running musicals Chicago and Cabaret), this comedic whodunit originally starred David Hyde Pierce, and received mixed reviews for its limited run on Broadway.

Cast (L-R): Kandy Harris, Mary Kate Barnett, Sauliss Martinez, Mia DeYoung, Logan Callahan, David Foster, Ben Simonetty, Michael Clark, Terrence Boyer, Jennelle Liscombe, Rachel Karashay, Peter Kiewra, Cedric James, Michael Brunetti, Duane Olson, Thomas Netter (director), Douglas Woolever, Nicole Tarcza, Amber McCarthy, Michael Risio, Amy LeBlanc, Abbey Ressa, Ory Lopez, Emily Woolever, Jalen Carr, Elaine Young, Michael Britt and Daniel DelPriore.

Ever since enjoying A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder back in November, I’ve been looking forward to another show by Up and One Productions, and when I heard they were bringing a musical by the supreme team of Kander & Ebb, you can bet I was excited!

Featuring the same splendid stylings that make Chicago one of my favorite musicals, and with rib-tickling comedy equal to that of Gentleman’s Guide, Curtains is one of those works that is nearly impossible to mess up.

Fortunately, Up in One doesn’t even come close to blundering: the large cast does a marvelous job with the material, keeping us entertained from the opening scene about a closing curtain call to the closing scene about a grand finale (how “meta” is that!?).

With two pairs of leads in different performances, I couldn’t say for certain that shows featuring Duane Olson and Nicole Tarcza are just as pleasing as our occurrence with Peter Kiewra and Rachel Karashay, but I can’t imagine they wouldn’t be.

Although I never saw the original, from what I’ve read, it sounds like Up and One’s incarnation is every bit as good as the Broadway production. While that’s not to say this show is truly Broadway-quality (or even Mac-Haydn quality), still it makes for a great night out, at a price that’s infinitely more friendly on the pocketbook.

4

Andrew Andrews attended Curtains at The Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck on Friday, July 29, 2022 @ 8:00pm to write this review.