Applause! Musicals in Concert has wrapped up the run of its 49th production, Kander & Ebb’s Curtains. The award-winning musical-comedy may be lesser known than Kander & Ebb’s Broadway hits like Cabaret, Zorba, Chicago, Woman of the Year or Kiss of the Spider Woman but has no less of a spectacular score and characters.
As with all Applause! shows, performed in concert with book-in-hand, Curtains parodies backstage murder-mysteries, with a whodunit featuring a musical within a musical. Set in Boston 1959, the plot unfolds after a opening night tragedy of “Robbin’ Hood of the Old West” leading to a death blow by critics and a literal death. Enter Lt. Frank Cioffi, the investigating detective, brilliantly played by the charismatic Jacob Leonard, who is also a great musical-theatre fan and seemingly capable of anything. Whilst keeping the cast and crew under lock and key in the theatre, he solves the mystery, potentially finds love, and assists in helping the pompous director (Michael Wild) and brassy producer, (powerhouse Sabrina Prada) pull Robbin’ Hood of the Old West back from the brink of death.
The concert style of the production and direction by APPLAUSE! founder Scott Ashton Swan pulls more of the focus towards the catchy Kander & Ebb score, and gives the performers leeway in their characterizations, through which we see glimpses of their own personalities. While the entire ensemble is excellent, standouts amongst the featured players include the aforementioned Jacob Leonard and Sabrina Prada, along with Dane Smit and Keri Smith as Aaron and Georgia the composers of ‘Robbin’ Hood’. Building on his standout turn in this summer’s Matilda at TUTS, Jaren Guerreiro with his leading man presence is perfectly cast as Bobby Pepper, the Robbin’ Hood lead. Perhaps the hardest working character and performer is Sasha, the Robbin’ Hood conductor, played by Curtains’ music director, Diane Speirs, who performs the entire score live onstage.
While this enjoyable production Curtains has wrapped, we can look forward to the 50th Applause! Musical In Concert coming December 1-3, 2023 to PAL Theatre, Coal Harbour. Do I Hear a Waltz? is a unique musical collaboration between three Broadway icons; with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Richard Rodgers, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, based on Laurents’ The Time of the Cuckoo. Tickets will be on sale soon at applausemusicals.com