Touring – reviewed at Sheffield Lyceum
Guest reviewer: Ian K Johnson
Curtains is one of the more obscure musicals by the great writing team of Kander and Ebb. Not in the same vein as other shows by this duo in the respect the leading character is a man (Lieutenant Frank Cioffi played by Jason Manford), unlike Cabaret, Chicago, The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman which all have females in lead roles.
With this show think Robin Hood meets Oklahoma meets Columbo. A combination of all three makes for a glimpse into the onstage and backstage antics of theatre folk, well until the untalented and unpopular leading lady of this production of Robin Hood gets murdered during the bows.
Enter Lieutenant Cioffi (who just happens to be a musical theatre buff) to find the culprit, solve the murder and improve the stageshow into the bargain.
Manford is a suitable person to play the role, who knew how good a singer/dancer he was? He carries the role off in such a way he blends in with the talented cast like a musical theatre star should.
This production directed by Paul Foster has a very impressive cast including Samuel Holmes as the ever so English director, who delivers some of the sharpest theatrical in jokes with such a sharp tongue I’m just surprised he doesn’t cut himself. Rebecca Lock is a force to be dealt with, she plays Carmen the producer of Robin Hood with such ease and boy what a voice this lady has. Her rendition of ‘It’s a Business’ is an amazing show of her talent.
The songwriting duo of Robin Hood (Georgia and Aaron) played by Carley Stenson and Ore Oduba play ex lovers who clearly should be together as writing apart is so painful. Aaron sings of his pain/heartache in ‘I Miss the Music’ he tells us of his difficulties without having Georgia in his life. It is to be noted that at various venues Andy Coxon will be playing the role of Aaron Fox.
There are many in the ensemble worthy of a mention including Emma Caffrey (Bambi), Lèah West (Niki), Minal Patel (Johnny) and Adam Rhys-Charles (Daryl).
The choreography is bright and bubbly and credit for this is due to Alistair David. With musical arrangement under the supervision of Sarah Travis and the watchful eye of musical director Alex Beetschen. The company all play their part in some fabulous ensemble numbers including ‘Show People’, ‘The Man is Dead’ and my favourite ‘He Did It’.
The sets by David Woodhead are simple but effective and used to good advantage on stage.
There are many songs, dances and changes to Robin Hood until the culprit is found.