A deft musical whodunnit


Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 10:46 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 1:50 pm
Jason Manford in Curtains at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield.

Kander and Ebb’s last musical together is a homage to musical theatre. Every character in this deft whodunnit – a sort of Agatha Christie meets Oklahoma - is an astutely observed pastiche of characters they must have come across in their theatre lifetimes.

David Hyde Pierce (Niles in Frasier) created and won a Broadway award for creating the original star struck detective who pivots the show, and Jason Manford is a worthy successor in the role.

He has a naïve charm about him as he sets out to discover who is killing off people in or associated with a spoof Western called (curiously) Robbin Hood. He is ably assisted by the show within a show’s cast principally played by Carley Stenson, Ora Oduba and Rebecca Lock. Add in a brilliant portrayal of a camp director by Samuel Holmes and you complete the set of murderous suspects.

You would think that anything written by the creators of Cabaret and Chicago would be equally well-known. It is baffling that Curtains has not had the exposure it undoubtedly deserves.

With more theatrical in-jokes and gags than a Green Room party, director Paul Foster keeps up a cracking pace which never flags even when false clues are raining down like confetti.

But above all, Curtains is an excuse for some genuine show biz tunes with big brash production numbers from a superb ensemble. Alistair David’s choreography has everything you’ve ever seen in a Western musical from Calamity Jane to Seven Brides.

If you like musical theatre you’ll love this.

Alan Powell