Thoughts on Curtains – The Musical

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What: Curtains – The Musical
When: 19th August, 2016
Where: State Theatre, Arts Centre, Melbourne

SPOILERS!

For more on Curtains, please visit: theproductioncompany.com.au/curtains

I wasn’t really sure what to expect before I saw Curtains. I knew it was a musical comedy caper, if you will, and not much else. The story centers around the musical opening of , Robbin’ Hood in Boston, 1959. During curtain call on opening night, the show’s leading lady is murdered onstage – and it’s up to local detective, Lieutenant Frank Cioffi, to solve the crime!

Curtains certainly would appear to a lot of different people. It’s a musical, yes, but not in the traditional sense. It’s also part comedy, part murder mystery and part whodunit? But also, where a lot of musicians feature heavily on musical sequences based in the “real world” – IE. think the lead is walking down the street and then suddenly he’s involved in a huge dance number with his mailman – a lot of the songs come Curtains come from the stage production, making them more organic, I guess, in a way. Or perhaps believable is a better word, for those who don’t like musicals based in the context of the “real world”.

Where Curtains succeeds best is its ability to make the audience feel very much part of the drama, almost like you’re a character in the story. You’re looking for clues, of course, but more so, just like the cast of the musical are in lock down during the investigation, you too are stuck (metaphorically) in the theatre. So when Frank says that anyone in the theatre could be a suspect, you feel like you’re right there amongst it all.

It’s something quite uncommon in a theatre production – but it’s something that’s really engaging and what sets Curtains apart from many other performances (or from any other that I’ve ever seen before, at least). While often, as an audience member, you are simply watching a show – Curtains involves you in the story, even if you’re not “meant” to be.

Throughout the show you’re also questioning who did it? You’re looking around trying to figure out everyone’s motives. It’s quite fun actually. I think everyone in the theatre suspected each and every one of the leads during the show – and that’s how it should be! I suspected the killer from the get-go, but no spoilers here.

The directing (Roger Hodgman), choreography (Dana Jolly), costume design (Esther Marie Hayes), lighting design (Matt Scott), set design (Christina Smith), musical direction (John Foreman) etc is brilliant. Sets are minimalistic, as it’s based around a musical, the backdrops are flat, but the stage never feels empty – but that’s how they should be. Adding layers of props, strong colours and costumes, the stage feels lavish and lush. Not over the top, but with enough impressive restraint.

If Simon Gleeson impressed you in Les Misérables, Chess or any previous show – you’ll love him in this! Gleeson is perfect in his portray of the lovable Lieutenant. His utterly adorable performance complements the sweet, good-natured charm of Niki Harris, as played by Alinta Chidzey, with roaring success. Their chemistry on stage is undeniable. You really believe that these two are falling in love on stage.

The strongest number in the show is undeniably, A Tough Act to Follow. In a spectacular nod to the shows of old, (think the beauty in the movement of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers); the number, is an elaborate fantasy sequence, where love and romance reign supreme. Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic, but there’s just something so magical about two people falling and expressing their love through song and dance.

And isn’t that what musicals are all about?

I also quite liked Melissa Langton as the Carmen, the bold, brassy and opinionated producer. She has quite a voice on her! She stole the show during It’s a Business and Show People, respectively. Her relationship with her onstage daughter, Zoe Coppinger, as Bambi, was very believable and well-acted. Alex Rathgeber and Lucy Maunder, as the songwriting duo, Aaron and Georgia, were also very good.

John Wood and Nicki Wendt are strong, too, although their performances are brief, yet memorable.

Comedian, Colin Lane was most endearing as the camp director, Christopher Belling. The part allows Lane’s strong background in comedy to really show – his wit and timing is evident, and this allows for many hilarious moments throughout the show.

Although, if I was to nitpick, his accent did slip a little. He nailed it at the very beginning, but when he returned to the stage it was almost like he forgot what accent he was meant to have, and that made it a little difficult to know where his character was meant to be from. He’s meant to be English, in case you were wondering. But that’s only a small detail – I thought he was fabulous and his stage presence was undeniable. I hope he continues to do more stage work once Curtains‘ run ends.

But perhaps the most unexpected surprise was John Foreman as Sasha, the music director. Foreman’s singing number at the beginning of the second act had the audience in stitches – in a good way – because it was just so unexpected. Whereas we’re used to seeing Foreman hidden offstage with the orchestra, Curtains’ features the musicians prominently and visual during the entire show.

I’m quite harsh when it comes to musicals, but I enjoyed this a lot for so many different reasons. It’s different, it’s quirky, it’s funny (really funny!) – and that’s exciting!

Curtains is only on for a limited time. I highly recommend you go see it!


For more on Curtains, please visit: theproductioncompany.com.au/curtains

Saturday 20 August at 2pm and 7.30pm
Sunday 21 August at 3pm
Wednesday 24 August at 1pm and 7.30pm
Thursday 25 August at 7.30pm
Friday 26 August at 7.30pm
Saturday 27 August at 2pm and 7.30pm
Sunday 28 August at 3pm

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