Who doesn’t love a classic whodunit? Who doesn’t love a musical? Who doesn’t love a good comedy? Put all these ingredients together and you dream up a very strange, behind the curtains view of theatre-land.
The book is by Rupert Holmes, but it is the music and lyrics by Kander and Ebb, creators of well-known shows Chicago and Cabaret, that give the show its life and humour; the score very much reflecting their music styles, and tongue-in-cheek lyrics.
The show goes up on the final scene of a new musical, “Robbin’ Hood of the Old West”, Think Robin Hood meets Oklahoma! Led by the amazingly talent-less, Jessica Cranshaw (Nia Jermin), who following her curtain call, promptly collapses and dies in hospital. MURDER!
With the cast and crew theatrically mourning her death, enter lieutenant Frank Cioffi (Jason Manford) to investigate the murder. From the minute he enters the stage, Cioffi is starstruck, he’s a budding Am-Dram who doesn’t just take on trying to solve the case, but also takes to saving the show!
So begins the musical, wrapped in a murder mystery, wrapped in a musical, the cast swapping from backstage scenes and songs, to numbers from the new musical, all whilst Cioffi injects his own views on what’s right and wrong with the production.
Jason Manford may be the comedy name above the door on this show, and he delivers a well-honed performance using his comedic background, timing and also demonstrating his song and dance capabilities – however, the true comedian was Samuel Holmes as Director, Christopher Belling. His outrageous character, his one line quips and overall bitchiness had the audience bursting out with laughter at many inappropriate moments.
As show reviewers, or “critics” in this case, there are several moments this show talks directly to us. From the moment the production team sing about “What kind of man?” would want to be a theatre-critic, to one liners like “You never know who may be in the audience”. Each of these bringing nervous laughter from the press section of the audience.
Rebecca Lock, plays Show-Producer Carmen Bernstein, and like many show producers she brings an air of mystery, never quite giving straight answers, almost politician like, leaving you unsure on the real truth. Lock’s acting performance was strong, as were her vocals and movement throughout.
Carley Stenson (Hollyoaks) and Andy Coxon play excellently off each other as divorced songwriting team Aaron Fox and Georgia Hendricks. Again, there are unspoken truths between these characters that simmer throughout, finally bubbling to the surface as the show reaches its finale.
Finally, in a show that had a bit of everything, it would be remiss not to also mention Bambi (Emma Caffrey) and Bobby (Alan Burkitt) who treat you to a stunning western style pas de deux.
Throughout the show there are more under-hand events, but as far as whodunit, there is a lack of evidence and clues to make the audience sit and ponder the guilty party, avid sleuths out there be warned. Curtains is a show that combines musicality, comedy, mystery and love stories to create a fun night out.
Curtains is at TheLiverpool Empire until Saturday 1st February. For Tour information and tickets click here