'CURTAINS' RISES FOR ANNE ALLAN
Submitted by on 11/19/2014
Veteran Director/Choreographer Helms Randolph Academy's Curtains,
December 2-6, 2014, Annex Theatre
Tickets 22 at Ticketmaster.ca/1.855.985.2787
When it came to picking directors for the Randolph Academy's upcoming production of John Kander and Fred Ebb's Curtains, there was no clearer choice than Anne Allan. The veteran director/choreographer, who recently stepped down as artistic director of the Charlottetown Festival after 10 years, worked directly with Broadway's longest-running songwriting team, Kander and Ebb, as resident director of the Broadway production of Kiss of the Spider Woman.
According to director Anne Allan, "Curtains is a very stylized period piece, not only in terms of music but also design and acting style. This is the biggest challenge to the students--we're asking them to go against the grain and do something very different than what is currently the accepted norm in acting. They have to make big choices and bold decisions."
The last original collaboration by Kander & Ebb, Curtains--like Kiss--has a show-within-a-show construct, but the similarities end there. A comedy musical murder mystery in the style of classic Broadway musicals, Curtains is known for having one of the most complicated plots in the history of musical theatre canon. Set in 1959, Curtains opens during the pre-Broadway tryout of a new musical called Robbin' Hood at Boston's Colonial Theatre. When unlikable leading lady Jessica Crenshaw is murdered during her opening-night curtain call, it's up to police detective Frank Cioffi to figure out which member of the show's company "done it." A musical theatre fan, Cioffi becomes stage-struck and finds himself just as drawn toward making the show a hit, as he is in solving the murder.
Allan notes that Curtains represents a challenge to the design team as well: the action of the show is set in Boston's historical Colonial Theatre, an opulent 1,500-seat theatre, which is a markedly different environment from the 100-seat Annex Theatre.
Tasked with the challenge to transport audiences 900 kilometres away and 55 years in the past is set designer Brandon Kleiman. "The set is inspired by what Hollywood made us believe a backstage looked like in those Broadway melody-style movies of the '30s and '40s--very Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers with props, background scenery, and industrial architecture. We're making the distinction between backstage and onstage with colour: backstage is neutral in sepia tones, but when we have the 'on-stage world', scenery pieces are bright, sparkly, exaggerated and big while costumes and lightings are hot, sexy pinks and purples."
With music and lyrics by Kander and Ebb, Curtains' libretto was developed with Rupert Holmes (Tony Award, The Mystery of Edwin Drood), from an original concept by the late Peter Stone (Tony Awards for Titanic, Woman of the Year, 1776). After a successful run at Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theatre , Curtains opened in March 2007 at Broadway's Al Hirschfeld Theatre and ran for 511 performances. It garnered 8 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, with one win for star David Hyde Pierce as Best Actor in a Musical.
The Randolph Academy production of Curtains runs December 2-6 at 8 p.m. and December 6 at 2 p.m. at the Annex Theatre, 730 Bathurst Street, Toronto. Tickets are $22 and available at all TicketMaster outlets, ticketmaster.ca or calling 1.855.985.2787.