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by Tri-School Theatre

The lights come up on a colorful scene.  The animated cast is singing and dancing to Wide Open Spaces in the musical Robbin' Hood of the Old West.  During the curtain call the inept diva is murdered.   Now the real show begins- Curtains, a backstage murder mystery set in Boston in 1959.   Peter Stone (1776, Titanic, The Musical) came up with the concept and wrote the original book but died before it reached the stage.  Rupert Holmes came in and used that idea to write a new book.  He has previously had an award-winning hit on Broadway with The Mystery of Edwin Drood based on a novel that Charles Dickens died before completing.  Legendary composers John Kander and Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, New York New York) wrote the score.  However, Fred Ebb died before the show was completed. Kander and Holmes completed the lyrics.  Curtains was a Tony Award-winning hit on Broadway that starred David Hyde Pierce.  Tri-School delivers a delectable production of this very unique musical.

After the murder of star Jessica Cranshaw, Lt. Frank Cioffi arrives to lead the investigation and coincidentally happens to be a huge theatre buff.  He is in his element solving a crime and hanging out backstage.  As Cioffi meets the cast and staff of Robbin' Hood, the audience does as well. The producers are the bickering Carmen and Sidney Bernstein.  Their daughter turns out to be one of the performers Bambi Bernét who had kept her family ties private.  That turns out to be only one of the secrets revealed as the plot unravels.  The show is being written by Georgia Hendricks and her ex-husband Aaron Fox.  The lovely actress Niki Harris and leading man, Bobby Pepper are now worried if the show will go on without a leading lady.  The flamboyant director Christopher Belling keeps the show on schedule.  Before long Georgia has been cast in the lead and while she is learning the role Cioffi uncovers more clues as more murders occur.   We have two love stories as Cioffi and Niki grow closer while Aaron and Georgia fall in love again.  We have three plots progressing: the crime investigation, the backstage drama moving the show toward a Broadway opening and the fluffy plot of Robbin' Hood.

The musical numbers range from the full cast Show People and The Woman’s Dead to solos like I Miss The Music and Coffee Shop Nights.  The Robbin' Hood.songs have a fun tongue-in-cheek quality such as Kansasland and Wide Open Spaces.  The most entertaining number is In The Same Boat, which undergoes five versions before the idea to combine the versions to find a hit in the show.

Hillary Pearson keeps the musical moving at a brisk pace, shifting effortlessly between the bare backstage to the stylized sets of the show within the show.  Michael Lopez’s challenging choreography keeps the ensemble on their toes.   Musical director Anne Vandenberg McClain led a small but talented orchestra.  With a show featuring a big star it can be difficult for a high school to fill those shoes.  Brandon Berg meets the challenge head on with a powerful performance as Cioffi. Amanda Steinfeld is a sweet and spunky Niki. Tasha Tormey has a strong voice as Georgia playing well against Matthew Galligan as Aaron. David Kane takes comic honors as the director.  Carlos Zavala dances well as Bobby. The large cast features a lot of supporting roles with Joey Hennings making an impact as stage manager Johnny Harmon.  The colorful sets and costumes of Robbin' Hood contrast nicely with fifties street clothes and bare backstage.

Tri-School theatre took on a difficult show and produced a winner.  The show built nicely till the killer was revealed and the show within the show opened on Broadway.  For many audiences, this was their first viewing of Curtains.  There aren’t that many new shows available these days with the hits still running on Broadway or touring.  That makes this production even more refreshing.

Performed April 29 - May 2, 2010

Robert Rotenberry
National Youth Theatre




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