Curtains at New Wimbledon Theatre
Curtains is billed as a musical whodunnit and is by Kander and Ebb, the writers of Cabaret and Chicago. To me this sounded like a match made in musical theatre heaven so I could’t wait to see this tour.
The show opens with a murder of a theatre companies leading lady on opening night of ‘Robbin’ Hood of The Old West.’ Lieutenant Frank Cioffi arrives at the theatre to solve the crime and whilst he gets on with solving the murder the theatre company work on improving their show following the numerous bad reviews it received.
The story of the show is good fun and fast paced. There are several sub plots within Curtains they all tie together nicely and are all used by Cioffi when considering the potential suspects. The sub plots vary in theme from new lovers meeting to rekindling of old romance to family dynamics through to the internal power struggle within a theatre company. Whilst there is no great depth to it there isn’t a chance for the audience to get bored and each individual character and their own story kept my attention. The comedy elements of Curtains however end up being the most memorable. Curtains pokes fun at all of those involved in musical theatre, from the critics to the director who takes credit for everything to the producer determined that the show must go on.
The music is an interesting mix within the show, you can spot influences of shows such as Oklahoma and Top Hat. As there are elements of the show within the show there is a contrast of the big more traditional musical numbers within the show compared to some beautiful ballads and comedy numbers when not rehearsing Robbin’ Hood. The main criticism however is that there aren’t really any numbers in the score that you leave singing to yourself.
Each member of the Curtains company played their character with a huge amount of humour and quite often a firm tongue in the cheek, which is exactly the approach needed for this show. Rebecca Lock played Carmen Bernstein, the theatre producer. She had a huge personality which the part needed and perfect comedy timing. Carley Stenson took on the role of Georgia Henderson, one half of the songwriting team. She has beautiful vocal and ‘Thinking of Him’ was tender and provided a poignant moment in this comedy show.
The star name of the show is Jason Manford, despite his questionable dancing in ‘Tough Act To Follow,’ he was very charismatic in the role and engaging as Cioffi. I also particularly enjoyed the fact that Cioffi’s priorities seemed to be fixing the show over solving the murder.
The names Kander and Ebb are often associated with dance shows like Chicago and Cabaret and whilst Curtains may not fit so neatly into this box the choreography by Alistair David fits this show perfectly. It is frequently cheeky but it is also consistently well executed. The par deux between Bobby (Alan Burkett) and Bambi (Emma Caffey) was a great example of this and showed off Burkett and Caffey’s ability perfectly.
Curtains is a show that ticks lots of the boxes, an interesting and unique story, a stellar cast and cheeky choreography. It is worth seeing at the very least to tick of the final C of Kander and Ebb’s trio as their fun and flirty younger sibling.
Curtains is at New Wimbledon Theatre until 18th January 2020. For more information and tickets visit their website.