There are very few things that don’t need to change or be updated for years and years to still be totally and inexplicably fabulous. Classic musicals with classic musical tunes are one of those things, and Curtains reinvents some of this classic panache with many a one-liner and a tap dance.
It tells the story of a new musical’s cast and crew in Boston and the drama and song that takes place after the leading lady is murdered – though, somewhat charmingly, no one seems remotely sorry about this. Jeremy Legat leads the way as Lieutenant Frank Cioffi, who isn’t going to let his love of musical theatre, spawned from his time in a Community Theatre group (cue a groan), get in the way of his investigation. He provides a well needed centre for the show and was my performer of the night, navigating through the small space with ease, singing and tapping his cheery way to a conclusion. As one dead body becomes many, the colourful cast take you back to the days when singing about being a thespian was pretty standard in a musical and the audience loved them for it. Songs range from the cheeky, such as "What Kind of Man?" that pokes fun at the critic-controlled theatre world of today, where one man’s opinion can make or kill a show (not this one, I’m a woman and would never do that). "Show People" is a great tune that brings back all of the golden oldies whilst addressing the fabulousness of show business (there’s no business like it, is there?). "A Tough Act to Follow" provides the love tune of the night and left the not-so-good "Thinking of Him" dragging behind like a naughty child who doesn’t want to go home.
Carmen Bernstein portrays a rather malicious mother hen to the group of twenty performers, who portray everyone that would be there for this rather purposefully shocking show within a show - “Robin Hood”, set in the Wild West - from the ensemble to the stars to the director to the money to the writers. Her early one-liners about her unsatisfactory husband set the tone for the show that runs amok with off-the-cuff wit and sauciness. Martin Thomas’ unexpectedly simple set (having seen some of his other work) perfectly frames the two walls of the Landor’s limited space, that swaps between the stage and the backstage of the Boston theatre, and Robbie O’Reilly’s choreography just as perfectly fills the space. Not one person on the front row flinched as the dancers were flung about, very well done indeed. Bryan Kennedy’s camper-than-camp director Christopher Belling was an absolute ball, with very little innuendo needed amongst his sarcasm and drollness. Randy Dexter, played by Josh Wilmott, was blooming hilarious also.
Curtains is a show that very nearly didn’t get made – be sure to give the programme a good read – but I’m very glad it did. The accents may have been a little all over the place - with some of the cast, I found myself wondering if a character was from New York, England, Texas or the deep south at some points - but this is easily forgiven as the tunes and laughter shine. As a mother embraces her daughter, past loves rekindle, new loves are born and the dancers make a revelation or two about their own mischief, I was enthralled and delighted. Get yourself to the Landor and enjoy another killer of a show at this terrific theatre.