BWW Reviews: Arvada Center Has An Instant Hit with Spectacular CURTAINS

By: Jul. 20, 2013

The Arvada Center presents the award winning musical, CURTAINS (written by Rupert Holmes, with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb) playing now through July 28th. As Curtains opens, the chief sleuth, Lieutenant Frank Cioffi, who harbors a secret affinity for musical theater, investigates the murder of a Broadway-bound theater company's tremendously untalented star on opening night. Could the culprit be the hard-edged lady producer, one of the recently divorced songwriting team, the egomaniacal British director, or the seemingly sweet ingénue? Curtains will have you on The Edge of your seat - laughing!
I must admit that I was thoroughly impressed by this superbly executed musical and am still curious as to why it was not smash on Broadway. This show is the perfect blend of comedy. melodrama, mystery, intrigue, and romance and the audience absolutely loved it. The musical within the musical was charming and cheesy fun. What Kind of Man made me smile and blush as the song was a jab at critics. After the leading lady dies, the company pays their homage with The Woman's Dead (which was over the top and hilarious). Even with the loss, the show must to on and Show People was absolutely fabulous and sung and danced with conviction. The love affairs brought out the romantic side of everyone and drew us into the plot even further. I appreciated the staging of the second death before intermission and it helped to build that tension. Kansasland is probably one of the corniest songs I have heard in a while (excluding Top 40 radio) and I loved it! One of my favorite songs was the final rendition of Same Boat that was a wonderful example of building layers upon a song to make it a hit. The twists at the end left everyone a little dizzy, but with lovers united and the cases closed much to the satisfaction of the audience. Highlight numbers include - What Kind of Man, Thinking of Him, The Woman's Dead, Show People, Thinking of Missing the Music, A Tough Act to Follow, In the Same Boat (final version). All in all, thanks to the fine performances of the cast and crew - an excellent and enjoyable evening of musical theatre.
Jim Poulos was absolutely adorable as Lt. Frank Cioffi and impressive in his Arvada Center debut. The combination of his excellent accent, goofy investigative style and love of musical theatre stole the audiences hearts and he commanded the attention of the stage every time he was on. He also had a good voice as well and that was highlighted in Show People and A Tough Act to Follow. His romantic interest, Niki Harris (played by the sweet and stunning Erica Sweany) just added to the cutesy and endearing love story and the audience loved it! Even for her sweet innocence, she had quite a set of pipes on her and those shone in Kansasland and Tough Act. Lauren Shealy was superb as the conflicted Georgia Hendricks and had a lovely character arch. Her voice and presentation of any love song can make any person swoon into romantic sigh and this was totally apparent in her interpretation of Thinking of Him. Jeffrey Roark as Georgia's ex, Aaron Fox was also excellent and was a great pairing with Lauren. You could tell that Megan Van de Hey was having fun with her character, Carmen Berstein and the audience just ate it up. She truly had the best zingers of the night and her execution and inflection of each one didn't just make you chuckle; instead they made you laugh out loud, slap your knee, fall on the floor and beg for more. For as funny as Megan was, the true scene-stealer of the night was Colin Alexander and the flamboyant director, Christopher Belling. He was over the top and hilarious and had the audience in stitches every time he opened his mouth and they were both so funny in What Kind of Man. Kara Dombrowski as Bambi Bernet was simply marvelous and she really showed off her talents and comedy in this role. I loved the development from chorus girl to leading lady and everyone was impressed by her performance of Kansasland. Adam Perry as leading man Bobby Pepper certainly looked the part and also had a excellent vocals to support those good looks. I have to also commend the vast talents of the chorus that brought their A-game to this show, while not distracting from all of the various subplots commencing and colliding onstage.
The talented production team of director Gavin Mayer and musical director David Nehls featured some excellent Arvada Center veterans and several impressive new actors also. This company was skilled in both song and dance and kept the audience engaged in the story throughout. Gavin Mayer was quite thoughtful in his blocking of this large cast and did not leave a corner of the stage in The Shadows and the show ran quite smoothly. David Nehls was also a funny scene-stealer in his small role as the "conductor" Sasha Iljinsky. Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck was wonderfully inventive in her choreography of this high energy show and I have to give her total props for always coming up with new moves and fabulous numbers for every show. Show People, Thataway, Kansasland, and A Tough Act to Follow were especially high spirited and fun to watch. I adored the grandeur facade of the stage (the pillars, gold leaf trim, etc). I looked so real, and was hard to believe that it was fake fabulous recreation from the talented mind of scenic designer, Brian Mallgrave. He really brought a nostalgic face to this visually stunning musical and the lighting by Jane Spencer and sound by David Thomas only added to this expertly crafted package to the delight of the audience. The costumes by designer Clare Henkel were vast and full of color, and variety from civilian clothes to the costumes of the musical within the musical. The wig and makeup design was over the top and gave each actor their own distinct style. I especially loved the makeovers of Carmen Berstein and Bambi Bernet. This creative team as a cohesive unit really brought out their talents to make the actors and this production truly shine!
While the show was a moderate success on Broadway, the talented cast a crew has made this production a hit in Colorado! CURTAINS is delighting audiences at the Arvada Center now through July 28th. Performances are Tuesday - Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday at 1 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., through July 28. For tickets or more information, contact the box office at or by calling 720-898-7200.
Photo Credit: P. Switzer

Lauren Shealy as Georgia Hendricks and company

L-R Jim Poulos (Lt. Frank Cioffi), and Erica Sweany (Niki Harris)

L-R: Colin Alexander (Christopher Belling), Megan Van de Hey (Carmen Bernstein), Jeffrey Roark (Aaron Fox) & Lauren Shealy (Georgia Hendricks)

Lauren Shealy (Georgia Hendricks) and Jeffrey Roark (Aaron Fox)

Erica Sweany (Niki Harris) and Jim Poulos (Lt. Frank Cioffi) and company

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