Going Up: Curtains, Kander and Ebb Murder-Mystery Musical Opens in L.A.

News   Going Up: Curtains, Kander and Ebb Murder-Mystery Musical Opens in L.A. John Kander, Fred Ebb and Rupert Holmes' musical Curtains starring David Hyde Pierce, Debra Monk, Karen Ziemba, Jason Danieley, Jill Paice and Edward Hibbert, opens its world premiere run in Los Angeles Aug. 9.

Jill Paice and David Hyde Pierce in Curtains.
Jill Paice and David Hyde Pierce in Curtains. Photo by Craig Schwartz

Scott Ellis (Twelve Angry Men, The Little Dog Laughed) directs and Rob Ashford choreographs the debut at Center Theatre Group's Ahmanson Theatre. The long-developing musical comedy, a backstage murder-mystery, began performances July 25 for a run through Sept. 10.

Tony Award winner Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) provides the book to Curtains featuring music by John Kander, lyrics by the late Fred Ebb and an original book and concept by the late Peter Stone. Additional lyrics are by John Kander and Rupert Holmes.

Set in 1959's Boston, Curtains finds itself at a pre-Broadway tryout of a new musical "where it's literally 'curtains' for the leading lady, who dies mysteriously onstage during the applause at the end of the show."

The entire company of Robbin' Hood (a Western musical version of the Sherwood Forest heroic tale) including the producer (Monk), the songwriters (Danieley and Ziemba), the director (Hibbert), the actors and the stage manager are possible suspects and each has a motive to be sorted out by a local detective (Pierce).

The detective, of course, "is a fervent musical theatre fan, [who] allows the company to continue rehearsing while he conducts his murder investigation," according to CTG. "He soon finds himself in the middle of the uproarious bedlam of theatrical egos and eccentricities, more murders and even a budding love affair." John Bolton, Michael X. Martin, Michael McCormick, Noah Racey, Megan Sikora and Robert Walden are also featured in the cast. The ensemble includes Nili Bassman, Ward Billeisen, Jennifer Dunne, David Eggers, J. Austin Eyer, Matt Farnsworth, Patty Goble, Mary Ann Lamb, Brittany Marcin, Jim Newman, Jessica Lea Patty, Joe Aaron Reid, Darcie Roberts and Christopher Spaulding.

The design team for Curtains features Anna Louizos (set), William Ivey Long (costume), Peter Kaczorowski (lighting), Brian Ronan (sound), Paul Huntley (hair and wig), Paul Rubin (aerial effects) and Angelina Avallone (make-up). Rick Sordelet handles fight direction. Orchestrations are by William David Brohn and dance arrangements are by David Chase. David Loud handles vocal arrangements and serves as music director. Beverley Randolph serves as the production stage manager.

Curtains marks one of the last collaborations by one of the longest-running songwriting teams in Broadway history — composer Kander and lyricist Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, Zorba, The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Woman of the Year). Their The Visit was produced by The Goodman Theatre in Chicago but did not move to a New York run. Ebb died in 2004.

Curtains is produced by Roger Berlind, Roger Horchow, Daryl Roth and the Center Theatre Group (headed by Artistic Director Michael Ritchie). With the names attached, the reported $10 million work is expected to travel east if L.A. audiences and critics embrace it.

The trio of Broadway veterans Monk (Reckless, Chicago), Hibbert (The Drowsy Chaperone, Noises Off) and Ziemba (Contact, Steel Pier) previously appeared in a 2005 reading of the work.

Rupert Holmes won three Tony Awards in 1986 for his Broadway musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and from 1996 to 1999 he was the creator and writer of the television series "Remember WENN" on American Movie Classics. His pop songs include "The Pina Colada Song."

Peter Stone, who died in 2003, won three Tony Awards for his librettos for Titanic, Woman of the Year and 1776.

Tickets to Curtains are currently available at the Center Theatre Group box office or by calling CTG Audience Services at (213) 628-2772. For more information, go online to www.CenterTheatreGroup.org.

A scene from <i>Curtains</i>.
A scene from Curtains. Photo by Craig Schwartz