Friday, October 9, 2009

Show People do "Curtains" at the TMP


photos by Kat Dollarhide

I am excited to be heading into the second weekend of performances for Curtains, at the Tacoma Musical Playhouse. The musical is set in 1959 Boston, Massachusetts and follows the murder investigation of cast and crew when Jessica Crenshaw, the supremely untalented star of "Robbin' Hood of the Old West", dies during her opening night curtain call. Making things more interesting is the clever and competent detective in charge of the case, Lt Frank Cioffi, who is just as interested in seeing the musical succeed (while falling for a young starlet) as he is in solving the case.

This is an ensemble piece and the cast is full of great characters and talent. I have worked with almost every member of the cast before on other shows and am having a wonderful time working with them here. In "Curtains" there are two stories playing out at once, the show within the show, "Robbin Hood", which has been savaged by critics and in need of a work over, and the whodunnit of the murder. Highlights from "Robbin Hood" feature some great dance numbers including amazing young talent in numbers like "Thataway" and "Kansasland".

Anyone and everyone who was part of the curtain call of in the first scene of "Curtains" finale of "Robbin Hood" is a suspect, including the Producers of the show Carmen and Sidney Bernstein, the backer Oscar Shapiro (me), the esteemed director Christopher Belling, the once married song writing team of Aaron Fox and Georgia Hendricks, the stage manager Johnny Harmon or any of the cast members, including lead dancer and choreographer Bobby Pepper and starlets in waiting, Niki Harris and Bambi Bernet. To make matters worse, they have to contend with horrible opening night reviews, including one from the Darryl Grady of the Boston Globe, and an intrusive investigation led by Det. Frank Cioffi

Sooooo... quick lists
These are the actors playing the roles mentioned above. To give a sense of how theater people build friendships and connections I am listing (guaranteed incomplete) shows that I have done with them in the past.

Carmen Bernstein : Karen Christensen (vocal powerhouse)
Babes in Arms
The Phantom Tollbooth
A Musical Mystery Dinner


Sidney Bernstein : Darrel Shephard
This is my first time working with Darrel but I love what he is doing.

Oscar Shapiro : Andrew Fry
This guy is hot or cold depending, but I have done every show with him.

Christopher Belling : Jon Douglas Rake
Radio City Music Halls - A Christmas Carol
Jon is the artistic director of TMP so many shows directed by.


Aaron Fox : Gregory Conn
South Pacific
The Producers


Georgia Hendricks : Heather Malroy
Pinocchio (I was the Fox, she was the Cat) great song.

Johnny Harmon : Chris Serface
The Wind in the Willows (I was a Toad, he was a Rat)
My Fair Lady
The Phantom Tollbooth (he directed)
The Producers


Bobby Pepper : John Huddlestun
Urinetown
My One and Only


Niki Harris : Ashley Coates
The Producers
My One and Only


Bambi Bernét : Hailey Hays
The Producers

Daryl Grady : John Miller
South Pacific

LT Frank Cioffi : Mark Rake-Marona
The Boys From Syracuse
The Fabulous Fable Factory
Urinetown
My One and Only


And for good measure:

Randy Dexter : John Hunstman who sings "Kansasland"
Big River

So when we sing "Show People", pictured above, early in the first act, I am certain we all relate to the sentiment and to the experience working with each other throughout the song.

It is an honor and a joy.

One challenge I was concerned with at the first rehearsal was that many of the scenes take place on the stage as simply that, the stage. The set is the stage we are on and when you are used to rehearsing with set pieces it can throw you off the top. But it didn't take long to accept it as the stage in Boston in 1959 where the previews of Robbin Hood were being held.

When they rehearse the numbers from the show, the set pieces reflect those of the show within the show, and I have heard a number of comments from folks who have seen the show that they were impressed and entertained by them. But then, "who doesn't love red."

There is also a scene played behind makeshift curtains, which is a hoot to say the least. Here is a picture.



Prior to that, Jeffrey Stvrtecky, who along with being musical director and orchestra conductor, plays Sasha Iljinsky, a character in the show. The audience last Sunday loved him.

As for going to a show. You cannot beat a live orchestra, and once again the folks in the pit at the TMP do a engaging, wonderful job.

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