Wednesday, 18 December 2019

REVIEW: Curtains at the Wyndham's Theatre

Although a well known Broadway show, Curtains hasn’t had much attention in the UK. Whilst its been a favourite of drama schools and the occasional small scale production around the country we haven’t seen a fully mounted production of it, until now. Its been making its way round the country and is making a Christmas pit stop at the Wyndham’s Theatre in the centre of London's West End. 

The show is set in a theatre in Boston where a new musical production of Robin Hood is in previews with hopes to go to Broadway. The show stars a huge film star who turns out to be dreadful and is shortly killed off. The theatre is sectioned off and no one is allowed to leave the building as there is a suspected murderer amongst them. As the show tries to find rehearse its new star theres a couple more killings, a love story and a couple of show rewrites by the detective, we eventually find out who committed the crime.  

This is a classic whodunnit storyline and with the setting of the late 50s is a great alternative to shows such as 42nd Street that may take themselves too seriously, something this show certainly does not do. The comedy is light and the songs are good, perhaps not the most memorable score but theres a couple of tunes you’ll be singing. 

The show really is pretty to watch, with such intelligent and innovative direction by Paul Foster and incredible choreography from Alistair David, the show looks wonderful and I couldn’t flaw this side of the show. Its also been wonderfully lit by Tim Mitchell, he enhances every location and adds so much flavour to the production. 

Jim Arnold (casting director) has really pulled together a Stella cast for this show, the cream of the crop of musical theatre talent. As the lead of the show, Jason Manford pulls it off very well. He has a nice voice and has a nice balance of timidness and likability with authority. As the writer of the show and ultimately the person who takes over as the leading role, Carly Stenson is a great addition to the cast. She has well and truly shrugged of ‘soap star’ and is a full on musical theatre star. She shows her true triple threat skills in this production and gives a fantastic and natural performance. Andy Coxon and Alan Burkitt are wonderful additions to the cast also; Coxon has the most beautiful voice and Burkitt can dance like I’ve never seen someone move in my life. 

However there are two stars of this show, Rebecca Lock and Samuel Holmes.
Lock just has everything you’d ever want from a musical theatre diva in this performance. I actually saw a lot of Patti Lupone in her performance, but I could actually understand what Lock was saying. She commands the stage whenever she’s on it and she knows how to charm the audience. Holmes had the entire audience in stitches after every single line, whether it was funny or not! He has incredible comic timing and had all of us in the palm of his hand. A true acting talent. 

The ensemble also shine in this show, with most of them having featured roles. Adam Rhys-Charles has the biggest featured role as Daryl Grady, a great actor and wonderful dancer. Other stand outs in the ensemble were Thomas-Lee Kidd for outstanding dancing and Gleanne Purcell Brown for giving me so much face during everything, I couldn’t take my eyes off both. 

However, there is something slightly off with this show, I think it could be the book as it moves quite slow and the story takes a long time to go anywhere. Its almost like being on a train, I wanted to get on a fast train but I instead ended up on a stopping service, do you know the feeling? They both go the same way but one just takes a little longer to get to the destination. 

This show might not be the most ground breaking thing to come to the West End, but it sure does help taking your mind off some of the awful things happening in our country outside the theatres doors. For some escapism, this show is the perfect solution. With some of the best performances in the West End, this is a perfectly pleasant evening out. 

Review by Mark Swale 

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: O19 | Price of Ticket: £52.50

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