A review by Pauline Flannery for EXTRA! EXTRA!







Ensemble of Curtains at Landor Theatre

Photo by Francis Loney


Music and Lyrics by Kander & Ebb, with Rupert Holmes


Directed by Rob McWhir


Landor Theatre


26 July – 1 Sept 2012




We’re swiftly into Wide Open Spaces from the in-play musical Robin Hood of the Old West when leading lady, Jessica Cranshaw, drops down dead. Curtains, is based on an original concept and idea by Peter Stone, with music and lyrics from Cabaret/Chicago duo, Kander and Ebb, and book by Rupert Holmes. The title alone is more loaded than a Colt 45. It’s not for the cliché faint-hearted. Yet its skill and know-how is difficult to resist, from familiar musical themes, split-hair harmonies to its larger than life characters who eat, sleep, drink and die Broadway.

There is front/back cloth action ingeniously staged by director Rob McWhir who convinces that the intimate space at the Landor is the run-down municipal Boston theatre, circa 1959. The musical, comedy, whodunit covers it all: 23 songs, 2 halves, 13 strong cast, 5-piece band, and by the end, multiple dead bodies. The speed is lickety-spit.

With ridiculously laugh-out-loud lines – ‘does debacle have two meanings?’, cut with swift Wildean moments, ‘Oscar I’ll put my money where your mouth is’….’Launder it first’……And a cast of unashamed stereotypes:  the dumb-blonde, Bambi, the ego-fed director and the love-lorn, star-struck, yet Columbo-canny Lieutenant Frank Cioffi  (Jeremy Legat) cue Show People. There’s twenty four hours to re-cast, give down-troddens-and-misunderstoods their moments of glory, sort out the pairings, iron out suspicions and solve the mystery.

Shows about shows are always a winner. The ensemble is extremely well-drilled, with inventive choreography by Robbie O’Reilly. The musical mechanics ‘In the Same Boat’, are made to appear effortless. While the mellow strains and clever lyric in ‘Coffee Shop Nights’, sung by Leo Andrew as Aaron Fox, is enchanting. The lighting (Rob Mills) is a treat of soft colours, soft-focus, and of course, follow-spots. There is spooky under-lighting, in ‘He Did It’, complete with shadow-play and echoes. Side-swipes at the establishment, Moliere, Beckett - and my favourite - ‘I put on Ice Man Cometh but nobody cameth,’ in ‘It’s a Business’sung with vim by Buster Skeggs. The treats keep on coming.

Yes, the revelation of the murderer is clunky, but there is so much to enjoy from McWhirr and his talented company. Curtains?  I don’t think so! This feels like a beginning…….

Landor Theatre

70 Landor Road
Box Office 020 7737 7276

Tickets £20/£18

Through till Saturday 1 September
Tuesday – Thursday & Saturday at 7.30pm, all Friday shows at 7.00pm, Saturday & Sunday matinees at 3.00pm


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