Originally written by Kander and Ebb (Chicago, Cabaret) and performed by Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group, Curtains is a murder-mystery comedy musical playing at The Fringe until the 13th of August at Paradise Green.
The 1959’s Boston-based musical follows the murder of Jessica Cranshaw of the musical Robbin’ Hood of the Old West, a wild western reimagining of Robin Hood, when Cranshaw collapses on stage during the final scene of the opening night. Musical-fan Inspector Frank Cioffi quarantines the theatre building to investigate the murder, while helping the company rewrite its show in twenty-four hours to prove themselves to the Boston Globa critic, Daryl Grady. With a musical within a musical, a murder mystery, the (re)kindling of romance between characters, and commentaries on the show business, Curtains has a lot going on in two and a half hours. While the story does not leave much time for enough character development, a strong cast, talented band, and perfectly paced directing make Curtains a joyful experience everybody needs this Fringe.
As the cast spent more time in the theatre building, it felt as if we the audience were accompanying their journey, thanks to the immersive acting and the relatively small size of the venue, which was the perfect fit for the show. There was not a single punchline that did not leave the audience bursting with laughter. Special mention must be given here to Gordon Stackhouse as Christopher Belling, whose performance as the hilariously flamboyant director of Robbin’ Hood is so effortlessly witty that it was easy to forget that it was not professional acting.
Thaddeus Buttrey was another standout as musical superfan Frank Cioffi, who embodied the charisma of a 1950’s crooner and a Hitchcockesque detective while endearingly fanboying over musicals and doing everything he can to save the faltering show.
Every song was delivered with the strength that prevailed throughout the show, but Áine Higgins’ alluring vocals stood out the most, accompanying the brilliant chemistry she had with her character Georgia’s partner, Aaron (Rupert Waley).
Apart from the occasional crackling of the microphones (which can be forgiven given that everything else was beyond student production quality), there was not a single fault in Katie Slater and Patrick Hall’s production of this omitted musical.
Overall, Curtains exceeds all expectations from an amateur Fringe show. If you want to enjoy a five-star-quality musical and have a good laugh during the Fringe, you do not want to miss Curtains.
Curtains will be performing at Paradise Green till the 13th of August.
Image: Maddy Chisholm-Scott, provided to The Student as press material.