The event comes almost exactly one year after a May 2001 reading of the same show. As in that go-around, Scott Ellis will direct. Joining Ellis in the 2001 undertaking were David Loud as musical director and a cast that included Debra Monk, Edward Hibbert, Michele Lee, Chip Zien, John Dossett, Michael McCormick, Paul Michael Valley, James Naughton and more. No cast has been selected for the new reading.
The show had a reading in January 2001 and the collaborators have been working on the script since that time. A workshop following the May reading is the next likely step, Stone previously told Playbill On-Line.
Progress on the work has often been slow, Stone told Playbill On-Line in late 2001, "because Kander and Ebb and I are never free at the same moment. So we've refined it many times, but now we really want to go forward with it."
Stone told PBOL in January 2001 that Kander and Ebb have been working on Curtains "sporadically for 12-to-13 years. We've each done at least three other shows in that period, so either they've been busy or I have, so it was tough to get together. But we had a private reading three or four weeks ago [in early 2001], just for us, and it was very encouraging. Scott Ellis directed, and we want him to be our director."
Ruthie Henshall (Kander and Ebb's Chicago), James Naughton (Chicago), Debra Monk (Kander and Ebb's Steel Pier) and Edward Hibbert (Noises Off) participated in a 2001 reading, as did Paul Michael Valley (1776). "There were 28 actors in all," Stone told PBOL. "They were wonderful. We should be so lucky as to get them." Stone said it would be a blessing to have the tryout at Boston's Colonial Theatre — where the plot takes place. As of early 2001, Curtains was set during the tryout of a Broadway-bound musical. The show's producers are a married couple, one of whom is murdered in the third scene. Every member of the cast and crew is a suspect, since they all have some kind of beef with the producing twosome. Stone cautioned not to look for similarities between the Curtains characters and real-life, married producers (such as Barry and Fran Weissler). "There's no similarity to Barry and Fran," he told PBOL. "They're nobody living or dead."
Curtains is a rarity in that it isn't based on source material from another medium or a play adapted into a musical. "It's an original musical not based on anything," Stone said, adding that after the murder, a homicide detective is brought in, and "by sheer coincidence, he happens to be a remarkably up to-date musical theatre buff. He's thrilled to be there with opinions and suggestions." At the reading, Naughton was the detective, with Debra Monk as the widowed producer and Hibbert the director of the musical-within-the-musical (also called Curtains).