BWW Review: CURTAINS at Vintage Theatre
One must take his criticisms into careful consideration when there's an entire number in a show dedicated to critic-hate...but don't worry cast of Vintage's Curtains, I was just as thrilled as the guy screaming "BRAVA!" next to me after every number.
One of the final collaborations betweeen the legendary Broadway duo John Kander and Fred Ebb slightly resembles its shows premise. (Ebb died while penning the show, along with writer Peter Stone.) Curtains happens to also feature some untimely deaths of collaborators trying to bring a show to Broadway...albeit a bit campier. But the show within the show, Robbin' Hood of the Old West, is already having a bit of trouble passing its out-of-town Boston tryout in 1959. Enter Lt. Frank Cioffi (played by a masterfully charming Andy Sievers) to solve the opening-night murder of star Jessica Crenshaw, clearly cast for reasons aside from talent. (A hilarious feature from Shahara Ray.)
And so begins a delightful whodunit romp. While the entire production crew is on lockdown inside the theater, a few more murders take place while the cast rehearses with a new star, Robbin' Hood songwriter Georgia Hendricks (Angela Mendez), who's too busy with her role to collaborate with her partner and ex-husband, Aaron Fox (Dave Gordon). There's also a feisty production team of co-producers Carmen and Sidney Bernstein (Suzanna Connors Nepi and Rick Williams), sole investor Oscar Shapiro (Eddie Schumacher) and director Christopher Belling (Todd Black) along with an underappreciated, overworked and probably blackmailed ensemble of actors. Basically, everyone's a suspect.
With such a large cast, it's uncanny to have so many standouts. Hannah Harmon plays Niki Harris, an up-and-coming ingenue of the show and Cioffi's instant love interest, with an effervescent innocence. Connors Nepi gives Carmen a fierceness full of wit. Gorden and Mendez bring outstanding, classic voices and a palpable heart to the songwriting duo of Fox and Hendricks. Zach Stailey plays leading man Bobby Pepper with undeniable charisma. Colby Dunn exudes the perfect amount of sassy snark as actress Bambi Bernét. The ensemble is a wonderful blend of triple-threats who were all able to showcase shining moments.
Choreography by Kelly Van Oosbree was a visual treat, showcased best by the campy style of Robbin' Hood. A terrific orchestra is directed by Eric Weinstein. Director Bernie Cardell has combined a rejuvenating blend of talent and spectacle in this murder mystery musical, and it's not to be missed.
Vintage Theatre Productions presents Curtains through Nov. 1 at Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St. in Aurora. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.; Monday, September 28 and Thursday October 29 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $32 ($28 advance). Call (303)856-7830 or purchase online at www.vintagetheatre.org.
Photo Credit: DenverMind Media