‘Curtains’ is a 2006 musical comedy, based on a concept by Peter Stone. Sadly, Stone died, and Rupert Holmes was asked to finish his script. The music is by John Kander and the lyrics are by Fred Ebb. This is a show suitable for the whole family and will have you chuckling throughout.
This production is generously supported by the Koorliny Arts Centre and Kwinana Industries Council. The season runs in Theatre One of the Koorliny Theatre complex, 10 Hutchins Way, in the Kwinana Town Centre. The show is 2 hours and 50 minutes (including interval) and can be seen on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7.30 until the 19th of November. There are also Sunday matinées on the 5th and 19th at 2.00 pm.
The Scene: 1959 at the Colonial Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts.
The set: Mainly quality projections on the rear cyclorama. The large cast and the fast-moving show would have made furniture props difficult to cope with.
The opening scene started with the cast singing on stage in front of the projected proscenium arch. Then the lighting changed, and the real theatre was now viewing the cast from their rear of the stage as though they were facing towards the imaginary audience. Sounds complex but the effect worked really well.
Lighting design and operation: Kate Lloyd, like her new husband (the sound engineer below), has an excellent eye for good lighting. Vibrant.
Soundscape: Alexander Coutts-Smith produced a crisp well-balanced orchestra and super headsets control. Most of the chorus had solos and with the fast-moving show, this would have been a big challenge. Splendid work.
Stage manager: Natasha Weir aided by Deputy Stage Manager (Jocelyn Dale) had a cast that constantly made fast entrances and exits. No queuing to leave the stage, and wonderful control.
Costumes: Head of Wardrobe – Lyn Hutcheon and her Costume assistants, Deb Fewster, Veronica Foster and the cast gave us several costume changes. From plush scarlet Can-Can dancers’ basques to baggy trousered suits. The styles were well thought-out.
The orchestra plays its brassy and slightly discordant overture under the pit conductor, Sasha Iljinksy (Tara Oorjitham). At the downmarket Colonial Theatre in Boston, a new musical called “Robbin’ Hood!” based on the English folk hero, is having its preview.
Rob Hood, played by the leading man Bobby Pepper (Rp van der Westhuizen – particularly good), has just finished an archery contest and is about to propose to the schoolteacher, Miss Nancy played by Niki Harris (Erin Craddock).
Madame Marian, played by the production’s totally inept leading lady, the atrocious tone-deaf singer Jessica Cranshaw (Michelle Ezzy- hilariously bad!) arrogantly takes her bow, then receives a couple of bouquets before strangely collapsing and dying on the stage before the entire cast.
The show’s uncompromising and wise co-producer, Carmen Bernstein (Lucy Eyre – beautiful voice) is wife of the show’s philandering promoter, Sidney Bernstein (Glenn W. Rykenrapp). The enchanting, smooth composer for the show-within-the-show is Aaron Fox (William Foskett) who is romantically linked with the show’s financial backer and general manager, Georgia Hendricks (Grace Johnson – heavenly clear voice). Then there is Oscar Shapiro (Vaughn Lowe), a miserable man who handles the finances; he is reading the newspaper theatre reviews. Once again, Daryl Grady (Glenn Scott) the theatre critic is again enjoying hammering their production and their stars,
The show’s gay, talented, and outspoken director, Englishman Christopher Belling (Christopher Alvaro – hilarious with magnificent one-liners), arrives and states that whilst in church that he had a visitation. The stage manager Jenny Harmon (Rachel Vonk, well done) tells Carmen there is a phone call for her. Fearlessly, Aaron tells Georgia the only reason she joined the show, was to renew her romance with choreographer Bobby Pepper.
Belling asks Georgia to sing Madame Marian’s opening number – she is brilliant, but her emotional depth comes from her failed marriage to Aaron. Hearing her voice, Aaron takes Bobby’s part and joins her, but Bobby furiously interrupts.
The Boston detective Lieutenant Frank Cioffi (Timothy Tyrie) who arrives with Detective O’Farrell (Dean O’Hehir) is immediately smitten at being on a real stage. He announces that he is a theatre fan, then isolates the scene. Rapidly Cioffi announces the death was caused by cyanide poisoning. He tells Belling to end his cast meeting, before offering advice on enlightening the Robbin’ Hood production.
Who carried the murder? This show will keep you guessing to the last couple of minutes.
The other cast members included: Harv Fremont (Matthew Walford), Randy Dexter (Jarvys McQueen-Mason), Roberta Wooster (Madeleine Shaw), Mona Page (Tatum Stafford), Marjorie Cook (Arianne Wescott-King), Arlene Barruca (Ebony Uetake), Roy Stetson (Michael Carroll), Brick Hawvermale (Charlie Darlington), Russ Cochran (Alan Gill). These actors are not simply chorus members, they are all on stage for most of the show and have complex dance routines, brief dialogue and short singing solos.
Choreographer: Connie Wetherilt had a novel twist on the dance sequences which reminded me of the Busby Berkeley swimming routines of the 1930s. The performers would all be singing along, when at the end they would gather in a group and explode, appearing like a flower opening. A great visual impact aided by the Dance Captains, Ebony Uetake and Tatum Stafford.
The dancing covered so many genres; Soft-shoe, jitterbug, verging on Charleston and jive, they were all there with every routine performed to perfection. Connie loves to involve the arm movements and these always give just that extra excitement to the dances.
Musical Directors: Tara Oorjitham and Taui Pinker cleverly started with cacophonous music to emphasise Jessica’s lack of talent, but after her death produced a well-balanced orchestra with the style of the fifties, plus wonderful control of the volume so that the singers did not need to fight to be heard.
The Band: Reed – 1) Talitha Dunn, 2) Justin Farinosi, 3) Christopher Steicke, Wayne Griffiths, 4) Jeni Stevens
Brass Trumpets – 1) Paul Marion, 2) Michael Baker, Aavi Barker Trombone 1) Dale Wescombe, 2) Bryce Henderson
Guitar: Kieran Ridgway Bass: Damien Snow Drums: Jesse Wormald Percussion: Lachlan O’Driscoll Keys: Taui Pinker
Director Kimberley Shaw has decades of experience and indeed it shows. This show hit the road running, with a colourful and powerful opening number. The cast was clearly spoken with just a hint of an American accent. Most of the action took place on the stage of the Boston theatre, so the cast was constantly in view and intermingled well. Static casts can kill a show. The standard of acting and the characterisation were superb. The vitality and vocals were amazing throughout.
This is a very funny show, with the added interest of a murder to solve. The quality music, dancing and colourful costumes made it a show to remember.