Curtains (musical): Wikis


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Curtains david a.JPG
Original Broadway Cast Album
Music John Kander
Lyrics Fred Ebb
Book Rupert Holmes
Basis Original book and concept by Peter Stone
Productions 2006 Los Angeles, California try-out
2007 Broadway
2009 Visby

Curtains is a musical with a book by Rupert Holmes, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and music by John Kander, with additional lyrics by Kander and Holmes.

Based on the original book and concept by Peter Stone, the musical is a send-up of backstage murder mystery plots, set in 1959 Boston, Massachusetts and follows the fallout when the supremely untalented star of Robbin' Hood of the Old West is murdered during her opening night curtain call. Can a police detective who moonlights as a musical theater fan save the show, solve the case, and maybe even find love before the show reopens, without getting killed himself?


Production history

Stone died in April 2003, leaving the book unfinished, and Holmes was hired to rewrite it.[1] Ebb also died before the musical was completed. Curtains had its world premiere on July 25, 2006 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Local reviews were mixed but not discouraging,[2] and the producers decided to transfer the show to Broadway with minor alterations.

After twenty-three previews, the Broadway production, directed by Scott Ellis and choreographed by Rob Ashford, opened on March 22, 2007 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre to mixed reviews. The cast included David Hyde Pierce, Debra Monk, Karen Ziemba, Edward Hibbert, Jason Danieley, Noah Racey, Jill Paice, Megan Sikora, Michael X. Martin, Michael McCormick, and John Bolton reprising the roles they played in LA, as well as new cast member Ernie Sabella. The musical garnered eight Tony Award nominations, with Hyde Pierce winning the award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. Curtains closed on June 29, 2008.[3]


Act I

It is 1959 at the Colonial Theatre in Boston, where a new musical called Robbin' Hood!", a western version of Robin Hood, is reaching its conclusion ("Wide Open Spaces"). Madame Marian, played by faded film star diva Jessica Cranshaw, enters and looks on as Rob Hood wins the sharp-shooting contest and proposes to Miss Nancy, the schoolmarm. The cast then sings the finale of the show, during which it is shown that Jessica can neither sing, dance, nor act. She takes her bow and, after receiving two bouquets, collapses behind the curtain.

Later that night, Carmen Bernstein, a hard-bitten lady co-producer, divorced songwriting team Aaron Fox and Georgia Hendricks, and the show's financial backer, Oscar Shapiro, read the papers only to find that all of the reviews for "Robbin Hood" are terrible, especially the Boston Globe's, which is the review they needed. None of them can believe that anyone would be heartless enough to become a critic ("What Kind of Man"). The show's flamboyant and British director, Christopher Belling, comes in and says that he had an epiphany after walking into a church. Just then, stage manager Johnny tells Carmen that there's a phone call for her. Carmen suspects that it's her philandering husband Sydney. Meanwhile, Georgia and Aaron get into an argument about why Georgia joined the show. Aaron claims that she only wanted to rekindle a romance with choreographer Bobby, the actor playing Rob Hood and Georgia's ex-boyfriend. Everyone is pessimistic, but Belling asks Georgia to sing Madame Marian's opening number. She does spectacularly, and it is clear that she is thinking about her failed marriage with Aaron. Aaron begins to sing with her, but Bobby cuts him off ("Thinking of Him").

Belling then announces his plan: they are going to replace Jessica. Niki, the schoolmarm and Jessica's understudy, steps forward and says she'd feel terrible taking over, but Belling goes on to say that he is actually casting Georgia as Madame Marian. Bambi, a dancer, steps forward and says that Niki should get the role, but Belling sees right through her: Bambi is Niki's understudy, meaning if Niki got the lead, she'd get to play Miss Nancy. Georgia is cast, in spite of Aaron's disapproval.

Carmen then enters and tells the ensemble that it was the hospital that had called. Jessica Cranshaw is dead. The cast performs a mock funeral, and it is clear that no one is sorry to see their leading lady gone ("The Woman's Dead"). Lt. Frank Cioffi of the Boston Police Department comes in and announces he had seen the show and loved it (except for Cranshaw). He then goes on to say that Jessica Cranshaw was murdered.

Cioffi tells Belling to finish up what he was doing with the cast, who do not want to go on with the show. Carmen unsuccessfully tries to convince them that "the show must go on", and various members of the ensemble stand up to her, including Bambi, who is actually named Elaine and is Carmen's daughter. Cioffi, an amateur performer himself, enthusiastically helps her bolster the morale of the cast, and convinces them to do the show ("Show People"). However, since Cranshaw was poisoned in the last minutes of the show and never left the stage thereafter, Cioffi believes that she must have been murdered by a member of the company. Also believing that the perpetrator is still in the building, Cioffi sequesters it. Sydney Bernstein arrives from New York, and Cioffi begins to suspect him, although Sydney claims to have been with a certain woman whose name he refuses to give.

Cioffi is left alone with the winsome Niki, who is now covering for Georgia. The lieutenant is struck by Niki's charm and confides in her about his investigation and his lonely life, married to his job ("Coffee Shop Nights"). She seems to return his affection, so he hopes she is not the murderer. The next day, Georgia attempts to learn to dance, but is failing miserably despite Bobby's belief in her. Cioffi arrives and soon meets Daryl Grady, the critic who wrote the terrible review for the Boston Globe, only praising the choreography and Niki's performance. Carmen and Sydney ask him to re-review the show with its new lead, and he decides that he'll re-review the show, tomorrow. They reluctantly agree before Niki tries to thank Daryl for his kind words. He tells her that he doesn't associate with the artists he reviews, and after having an argument with Cioffi about his previous review of Robbin' Hood, leaves.

Belling works to re-stage a difficult production number, featuring Niki, Georgia and Bambi, and Cioffi suggests that the song needs to be rewritten ("In The Same Boat #1"). Composer Aaron Fox, alone with Cioffi, confesses that he still loves his ex-wife ("I Miss the Music"). Any doubt that Georgia can carry the show is removed by the dress rehearsal of the big saloon hall number ("Thataway!"). Cioffi then comes on and tells the cast that he has figured out that Sydney has been blackmailing every member of the show into working for him. Tragedy soon strikes again as the curtain is rung down, as Sydney Bernstein is simultaneously rung up, with the curtain rope tied around his neck.

Act II

Sasha, the conductor turns to the audience to reveal that the hanging was fatal ("The Man is Dead"). A makeshift dormitory has been set up on the stage of the still-sequestered Colonial Theatre. Each member of the company suspects the others in the middle of the night("He Did It"). Cioffi returns from the coroner's office, but he focuses on whether the show will be ready for its re-opening. Aaron previews his new version of "In the Same Boat" featuring Bobby and two cast members Randy and Harv but Cioffi is not yet satisfied with the product and has other advice for the show's creators ("In The Same Boat # 2").

Bambi asks that a pas de deux be added for herself and Bobby. Carmen agrees, but she is no stage mother: her duty is to the box office ("It’s a Business"). Grady then comes in and tells everyone that he's taking interviews from the cast in the Green Room. Bambi does well at the rehearsal of the re-staged "Kansasland". Just then, however, a shot rings out from offstage, and Bobby is wounded in the arm, although Cioffi soon figures out that Carmen was actually the target. Niki comes forward the gun, but the company immediately jumps to the conclusion that she is guilty ("She Did It (Reprise)"). She says that she innocently found the gun backstage and hands it over.

As Cioffi works on solving the case, he tells Aaron, Georgia, and Bobby that Sydney had nothing on them and yet they were still working for very little money. Georgia then quotes a death threat which Cioffi hadn't read out loud. Cioffi is about to arrest her when Aaron attempts to takes the blame for her, reviving their romance. The couple reunite("Thinking of Him/I Miss the Music (Reprise")), and after Aaron leaves it is revealed that it was all an act, and that Bobby had only been pretending to be Georgia's boyfriend so that she could see if she could stir anything in them. She leaves, and Bobby reveals that he actually does love Georgia, and that he would do anything for her, even commit murder.

Niki laments how love makes people feel bad, but Cioffi begins flirting with her and remenices about the first time he saw her on stage, and how he thought that he could be her perfect partner, and, in an elaborate fantasy sequence, he becomes just that ("A Tough Act to Follow"). But he realizes that she has a secret. He tells Niki that in Sydney's book where he had coded memos for the casts' blackmails, there was an O next to her name. Stage manager Johnny knows the secret, but won't tell the detective what it is. He is shot and killed before he can reveal any more. He tears out a page from his notebook saying "Drop in planet Earth".

Cioffi takes Niki and Belling up to the theater's flyspace high above the stage. He is struck with inspiration, and announces that he's solved it. Left alone, he is hit with a sandbag and is sent tumbling down. He narrowly escapes death by clutching onto a setpiece, which lowers him to safety. When on the ground, he exclaims that he has solved it...he knows how to best stage "In the Same Boat". Putting together all of the versions, the cast is able to sing an incredible number ("In The Same Boat- Complete")

Cioffi then asks the cast to re-stage the bows, when Jessica was murdered, and they notice that Georgia is only being offered one bouquet, not two. Cioffi figures out that the murderer hid a pellet gun with a poison capsule inside a bouquet, disguised as an usher, and killed Jessica. Bobby suddenly comes on stage and collapses, and everyone realizes that the masked Rob Hood standing on stage is a fake.

Cioffi then announces that the O and the "Drop in planet earth" both represented a globe. The Boston globe. He finally solves the case: the murderer is the critic, Daryl Grady. Cioffi announces to the entire theater that he and Niki are engaged, so Grady reveals that he is in love with Niki and did not want her to move away to New York, so he decided he would do anything to stop the show. Grady takes Niki hostage, threatening to kill her so that Cioffi can't marry her, but is foiled by a convenient trapdoor.

After everyone returns backstage to prepare for the reopening, Cioffi privately confronts Carmen: She killed Sidney. Carmen has been secretly acting on behalf of Bambi while pretending to be unsupportive so Bambi would have to work to get ahead rather than rely on nepotism. She wants her daughter Bambi to move on to Broadway, but Sidney was going to close the show. Cioffi agrees to give her until after the show's Broadway opening to turn herself in, and tells her that, with the right lawyer, she could easily be acquitted of what is surely justifiable homicide. Carmen tells Cioffi that he's one of them ("Show People (Reprise)") Belling comes on and tells them that Bobby got hit on the head, and may not be ready for the performance.

Finally, the show reopens. Georgia is now Madame Marian, and Cioffi has replaced Bobby as Rob Hood, and it is shown that "A Tough Act to Follow" has become the new finale of the show.

Original Broadway principal cast

Other productions

United States

A U.S. tour of Curtains is scheduled to start in a limited engagement beginning in March 2010, according to Avid Touring Group.[4] [5]

The New England Premiere of "Curtains" is opening August 13, 2010, for five shows only, at the Haskell Opera House in Derby Line, Vermont/Stanstead, Quebec. The show will be performed by QNEK Productions, the resident theatre company at the Haskell Opera House. [6]


The first European production opened in Visby, Sweden in April 2009. Produced and directed by Sofia Ahlin Schwanbohm, the cast featured Fredrik Wahlgren (Lt. Frank Cioffi), Clara Strauch (Carmen Bernstein), Ingrid Zerpeas (Georgia Hendricks), and Vilhelm Blomgren as (Aaron Fox).[7]

The London premiere of "Curtains" took place on March 11, 2010, for four performances only, at The Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford. The show was presented by the Redbridge Musical Guild.[8]

The Australian premiere of "Curtains" was held on February 12, 2010 at Spotlight Theatre on the Gold Coast, and ran for four weeks.[9]

The New Zealand premiere of "Curtains" will be performed at Porirua Little Theatre, Wellington on the 8th of April 2010 and the season will last for four weeks.

Song list

Act I
  • Overture - The Orchestra
  • Wide Open Spaces - Randy Dexter, Niki Harris, Jessica Cranshaw, Bobby Pepper and Ensemble
  • What Kind of Man? - Carmen Bernstein, Oscar Shapiro, Aaron Fox and Georgia Hendricks
  • Thinking of Him - Georgia, Aaron and Bobby
  • The Woman's Dead - Entire Company
  • Show People - Carmen, Lieutenant Frank Cioffi and Company
  • Coffee Shop Nights - Cioffi
  • In the Same Boat 1 - Georgia, Niki and Bambi Bernét
  • I Miss the Music - Aaron
  • Thataway! - Georgia, Bobby and Ensemble
Act II
  • The Man is Dead (reprise) - Sasha (the conductor)
  • He Did It - Company
  • In the Same Boat 2 - Bobby, Randy and Harv
  • It's a Business - Carmen and Stagehands
  • Kansasland - Randy, Niki, Harv Fremont, Bobby, Bambi and Ensemble
  • He Did It (reprise) - Company
  • Thinking of Him/I Miss The Music (Reprise) - Aaron and Georgia
  • A Tough Act to Follow - Cioffi, Niki and Ensemble
  • In the Same Boat Completed - Company
  • Show People (Reprise) - Cioffi and Carmen
  • Wide Open Spaces (Finale) - Ensemble
  • A Tough Act to Follow (Reprise) - Company

Awards and nominations

Poster for Curtains in Los Angeles
  • Tony Award for Best Musical (nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical (Rupert Holmes and Peter Stone, nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Original Score (music & lyrics by John Kander & Fred Ebb; add'l lyrics by Kander & Rupert Holmes, nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (David Hyde Pierce, winner)
  • Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (Debra Monk, nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Performance By a Featured Actress in a Musical (Karen Ziemba, nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical (nominee)
  • Tony Award for Best Choreography (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical (Rupert Holmes and Peter Stone, winner)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Hyde Pierce, nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Monk, winner; Ziemba, nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestrations (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award Outstanding Music (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design of a Musical (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design (nominee)
  • Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Ziemba, winner)


  1. ^ The Journal News
  2. ^ Did L.A. Critics Think Kander & Ebb's Curtains Was Ready for Broadway?
  3. ^ "It's Curtains for Curtains; Murder Mystery Musical Will Close June 29",, March 19, 2008
  4. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Curtains Will Tour in Fall 2009",, May 21, 2008
  5. ^ tour information
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ "Curtains listing",, accessed February 16, 2010
  9. ^ "Curtains listing",, accessed February 16, 2010

External links



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