Most people will be familiar with shows such as Cabaret and Chicago, but it wouldn’t be all that surprising if you’d never heard of Curtains despite it being by the same famous writing team, Kander and Ebb. This musical who-dunnit never reached the highs of some of their other works and it’s not all that difficult to see why. The premise is a fairly simple one; A murder takes place after opening night of a failing musical. Everyone has a motive. Lieutenant Cioffi forbids anyone from leaving the theatre until he’s solved the crime and used his personal passion for musical theatre to fix the show, ready to reopen in a few nights time. The plot is basic but full of fun. There’s dramatic deaths, love triangles and healthy dose of over the top showbiz characters.
The cast in this production are a joy to behold and, like Kander and Ebbs previously mentioned works, the women absolutely dominate this show. Carley Stenson is perfection from the off as Lyricist turned leading lady, Georgia Hendricks. Rebecca Lock gets all the best show-stopping numbers as the unfriendly stage mom and producer, Carmen Bernstein. She’s a fabulous character actress, slinking around the stage and belting out songs with just the right amount of melodrama. Her daughter, Bambi, is played by Emma Caffrey who makes you totally fall in love with a character who, in someone else’s hands, could be seen as pretty annoying. Together these women are a casting Triumph and, supported by the likes of the more than capable Jason Manford, this is a cast not to be missed.
The design of the show is slick, functional and effective; going from onstage at the theatre to the less glamorous backstage areas. It’s all executed with class and style. The choreography is where this show really stands out from other touring productions. Alistair David’s choreography is so satisfying to watch, perfectly fitting in with the period of the piece but bringing but enough modernity to make it stand out from the crowd. It’s fun, it’s clean and it perfectly complements the silly, but unknowing, tone of the show.
Unfortunately where Curtains struggles is that the songs just aren’t very memorable. And with a first act that is almost entirely inconsequential to the rest of the show, it’s hard for it to recover. Act two is full of twists and turns but you can’t help but think that some of that pace should have been distributed amongst the rest of the production. It’s not the fault of the cast, nor the technical team, it’s just an inherent issue with the writing. It’s sure to resonate more with an older demographic; it’s good old-fashioned fun with not an offensive word in sight. But what you’re left with is a fine but forgettable evening at the theatre. Go for the performances but don’t expect to be spending the next few days blasting the tunes whilst doing the washing up. Chicago this is not. But with a cast to die for and an almost criminal amount of killer moves; Curtains is sure to keep you guessing right up to the bloody end.
Review by Dan Reeves
It’s murder putting on a new musical – literally! Jessica Cranshaw, star of the new Broadway-bound musical Robbin Hood, has been murdered on stage on opening night! The entire cast and crew are suspects. Time to call in the local detective, Frank Cioffi, who just happens to be a huge musical theatre fan. With a nose for crime and an ear for music, Frank has his work cut out trying to find the killer whilst giving the show a lifeline.
Starring Jason Manford (The Producers, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Guys and Dolls), this hilarious whodunnit is packed full of catchy songs, unforgettable characters and plot twists galore! From creators of Cabaret and Chicago, this Tony award-winning backstage murder mystery musical will have audiences laughing and guessing right to the final curtain.
More star cast to be announced.
New Wimbledon Theatre
from Tuesday 14th January to Saturday 18th January 2020.
Book Tickets for New Wimbledon Theatre