Curtains at the Ahmanson Theatre - Review

Is it Curtains for the Ahmansons' new production of Curtains?


Curtains a musical comedy murder mystery is a play within a play. The curtain comes up at the Colonial Theatre in Boston in the 1950's with the opening night of 'Robbin' Hood'. An out-of-town try out for a new musical set to go to Broadway.  What follows is as they say 'murder, mystery and mayhem'. The leading lady dies mysteriously, the play bombs and the cast is sequestered as the local police detective tries to solve the murder and save the play.


David Hyde Pierce

Curtains is the last collaborative work of song writing team John Kander and Fred Ebb.  For nearly two decades it has been in development with Kander and Ebb working on it first with Peter Stone who wrote the original concept and book and then with Rupert Holmes. Both Stone and Ebb passed away during the development of Curtains. Leaving the further development of the musical to Kander and Holmes. After enjoying two staged readings in New York the script was given to the Center Theatre Groups new Artistic Director Michael Ritchie by its director Scott Ellis.


Cast of Curtains

That was five years, a lot of rewriting and polishing to the book and music, ago. Then when Ritchie took on his new role of Artistic Director, Ellis called Ritchie again, this time to discuss producing Curtains. Ritchie left a slot in the 2005/06 season blank with the hopes that Curtains would be ready to fill the slot and it was.


David Hyde Pierce and Debra Monk

Beautifully directed by Scott Ellis Curtains is a musical whodunit. Which left me guessing and not able to figure out who the killer was until the mystery was solved by Frank Cioffi (David Hyde Pierce), homicide detective and musical theatre aficionado. Pierce best known as Niles Crane on Frasier is a multi talented performer who is no stranger to the stage, having been seen last on Broadway in Spamalot.


David Hyde Pierce and Edward Hibbert

Along the way we are hurled into the chaos of life in a backstage musical where we met the flamboyant British director Christopher Belling (Edward Hibbert). Hibbert is also from Frasier fame and is one of those instantly recognizable performers who you just can't recall their name, so let me say it again, Edward Hibbert. You may also recognize him from this seasons production of The Drowsy Chaperone.


David Hyde Pierce and John Bolton

Then of course we have the once married song writing team of Aaron Fox (Jason Danieley) and Georgia Hendricks (Karen Ziemba) who use this writing gig as an opportunity to battle out both their relationship and creative demons.


Jason Danieley and Jill Paice

The married Broadway producers Carmen Bernstein (Debra Monk), also seen on Frasier, and Oscar Shapiro (Michael McCormick), who are seemingly only interested in the bottom line, not loosing their shirt on this production. Carmen's' zany daughter Bambi Bernstein (Megan Sikora) and the pretty ingenue Nikki Harris (Jill Paice). The love intrest Bobby Pepper (Noah Racey) and the critic Daryl Grady (John Bolton).


Noah Racey and Karen Ziemba

Curtains has a lot going for it - The lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski and sets by Anna Louizos are bold, fun and entertaining just by themselves. The costumes by William Ivey Long are varied and beautiful. The choreography by Rob Ashford is both zippy and bawdy, at times bordering on R-rated. Some of my favorite moments in the show have nothing to do with plot or music. Instead they happened during dance numbers when I'd be caught off guard and do the 'double take' stare as I'd giggle and give my partner "an I can't believe they did that gaze".


Cast of Robbin' Hood in Curtains

Here is where I am going to contradict myself. I found Curtains to be slick and even though it had flow, it was disjointed. It was entertaining and it left me cold and uncaring. The music was good, but there was no showstopper or song that just stuck in my head. The plot idea is fun and exciting, but when I watched it, I just didn't care. The quality of the production, directing, choreography, costumes, sets and talent is great, top notch, A-list. But nothing happened to me, I wasn't moved, I did laugh and giggle at certain gags, but that's all.


Debra Monk and Cast

I didn't leave the theatre excited, happier or turned on because I'd just had this great experience. I left it in the same state I went in. I know I'm not the only one who felt disconnected from this experience and yet there were plenty of people around me who were obviously enjoying themselves. It's exciting to have new works being developed here in L.A. and then moved to the 'Great White Way'. I predict Curtains will make it to Broadway and people will enjoy it. But without some more work, this one won't be a Kander and Ebb classic, and the curtain will fall on a short-lived life.


Davis Hyde Piecre, Jill Paice and Cast

Performance Calendar:
July 25 to September 10, 2006
Tues - Sat at 8 p.m.;
Sat and Sun at 2 p.m.;
Sun at 7:30 p.m. (Aug 13 and 20);
Thurs at 2 p.m. (Aug 24, 31 and Sept. 7)
 No performances Mondays

Ticket Prices: $20 to $95

Tickets available through the Center Theater Group box office at the Music Center online at www. or by CTG Audience Services  213.628.2772.

Hot Tix: Sponsored by American Express are $20 and can be purchased subject to availability in advance or on the day of performance at the box office (cash or American Express only).

Group Sales


Performance Length
2 hrs, 30 mins

Center Theatre Group
Ahmanson Theatre
at the Music Center

135 North Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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