Monday, March 04, 2013

Theatre Review - Curtains

Over the weekend my wife and I went to see our local high school put on their spring musical. They were presenting the relatively new show "Curtains." I had heard a couple of songs from the play before and knew the very high level premise but didn't know a whole lot about it.

The basic idea is that we're watching the backstage goings on of a musical being produced in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Our play starts during the finale of the opening night in Boston. After the final number, the cast takes their bows…and the leading lady drops to the floor in a heap. A scene or two later, a detective appears on the scene and lets the entire cast and crew know that they are all suspects in a homicide investigation. The detective lets them know that nobody is allowed to leave the theatre until the mystery is solved. He also lets them know that "the show must go on" and he doesn't want to interfere with rehearsals or preparations. In fact quite the contrary, he reveals himself to be an avid lover of musical theatre and wants to help them with the show in any way he can.

The play is a witty comedy filled with lots of excellent writing and situational comedy. There are multiple love triangles or secret romances throughout the cast. Eventually things turn darker as blackmail is uncovered and more murders occur. A lot of the humor comes in the strange balancing act of getting the murder mystery solved while also trying to revise the show to make it a success. Especially funny is the way the detective alternates between his desire to solve the crime and his stronger desire to improve on the show and be a part of show business.

This High School production was well cast, well directed, well choreographed and well produced. The show was directed by Jim Christian the theatre professor from a local university. Jim has written and directed shows all over the country and he does a fabulous job. The local High School directors, producers, choreographers and other adult talent also did an excellent job as shown in the overall quality of the show.

I felt like the roles were cast very well and they all did an amazing job. There were a couple of key leads in the show but this show was unique in having a half dozen or more central "lead" roles and they all did a fabulous job. As the principle male lead, Talon Hatch was fabulous as the quirky detective. His facial expressions and pacing really enhanced the humor and made for a very entertaining character. The other key male leads did a fabulous job as well: Jacob Kmetzsch as Aaron, Alan Buys as Bobby, Taylor Bangerter as Chris and on and on.

The female leads did an equally good job. Brittany Wood was fabulous as producer Carmen Bernstein. She had a great voice and stage presence and really made her character believable. Libby Willey was great as the detective's love interest Niki. She was bubbly and fun and kept her character believably just on the right side of ditzy. On the other side of ditzy, Landry Thomas was great as Bambi, the producer's daughter trying to prove that she had talent and deserved a chance in spite of potential nepotism. Miriam Blaser was also great as Georgia, the lyricist pushed into the spotlight thanks to the death of the leading lady.

There were a couple of instances where the cast stumbled slightly over their lines but they recovered quickly and without any fiasco. Due to the nature of the play, some of the mistakes could easily have been construed as intentional.

The music was fabulous as well consisting of a great orchestra and a fun conductor. Because this play has a musical set within a musical, there were a number of fun interactions between the cast and the orchestra. The conductor even got to sing his own solo number at the start of act two, which was hilarious and a lot of fun.

The only mistakes that were troublesome to me had to do with the microphones and the sound system. Having a live orchestra belting out the music was fabulous, but there were a number of times where the instruments overpowered the cast and chorus. Even the leads were sometimes drowned out because their microphones didn't get switched on in time or were having trouble staying on during the song. Thus there were a couple of scenes where a few words or even a couple of lines were lost. These technical difficulties were certainly not unexpected nor were they overly detrimental to the production. There was one time where I felt like I missed a particularly witty line or punchline, but otherwise I didn't feel like I missed anything critical. I can't lay any blame to the crew since it's entirely possible that the high school's portable microphones may just have the tendency to cut out from time to time or be less than reliable. I'm sure that in the coming days any human error will be eliminated and any material issues will just be dealt with.

As always, I was very impressed with Viewmont's production. They always do such a fabulous job. There is so much talent and passion in the school and community. Watching this production did make me a little sad for our local community theater as I frankly felt like this show was at least on par with the community theatre's show…if not better. In any case, I feel like Viewmont consistently raises the bar for theatrical productions in the area.

Beyond the Viewmont production, I recommend you see "Curtains" if given the opportunity. It's a fun and funny play. It's not particularly big budget or spectacular so I suspect that over time it will fade into a little obscurity which is a shame.

The Viewmont High production continues to play through this Saturday (no show on Wednesday). If you have the chance to see it, you really should do yourself a favor and go. It's a smart and cheesy new musical with plenty of appeal for the whole family.

4.5 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

Brian Miller said...

sounds like a really cool concept for a play...kinda like the tv show smash....seeing the behind the scenes....