Let me start by saying that I feel a little tentative writing this review – the quote above comes from the first fifteen minutes of the Musical Theatre Ensemble’s (MUSE) Spring Slot, Curtains. With that attitude towards critics in mind, let’s proceed.
Curtains follows a murder mystery that occurs on the set of a Wild West musical adaptation of Robin Hood. The cast and crew are the suspects in an investigation lead by a plucky detective.
The cast’s comic timing was impeccable. A script that might have fallen flat in other hands hit all the right punches, with the performers delivering comedy and truth with equal strengths.
The casting was absolutely spot on. From the lead characters to the ensemble, every actor played their role fabulously, filling out a character-heavy show with gusto and individuality. Naming individuals involved seems a tad unfair; this was a strong ensemble show full of talented and committed individuals.
Each and every one of them committed to the world and made the show a beautiful and bustling spectacle. That being said, mention must be made of Aidan Kane, who, without a solo music number, managed to steal the show as Christopher Belling. Similarly, Lisa-Marie Long, Carmen Bernstein, held the show to its comedic standard, delivering punch after punch in glorious sarcastic deadpan.
Jack Dawson and Amy Humphreys’ duet “A Tough Act to Follow” was also absolutely stunning. In their synchronised movements and impeccable timing, the two seemed of one mind, delivering the most professional and flawless dance number of the night.
I’ll even go so far as to make an ill-advised comparison to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (even though I know very little about dance duos). There was such delight and ease in their partnership, it was a joy to witness.
The show toed the line between ction and reality, with musical numbers going between the show-within-the-show and the show itself. The strongest songs came from the show-with-in-a-show itself; numbers that allowed the performers to come alive with characterisation.
In particular, Charlotte Snedden and Dave Collins as Georgia Hendricks and Aaron Fox hit the reality of their characters perfectly, their relationship made viscerally real in their heart-warming solos and duets.
It is unfortunate that we allow problematic elements of scripts to keep going ahead.
While Jordan Delaney delivered the number beautifully, “Kansasland” was an unfortunate low point of the show, purely for its troubling depictions of stereotypes of Native Americans. There are understandable issues with rights when putting on a musical, however I believe the production could have taken steps to treat the portrayal as problematic within the world of the show.
A gift of choosing such a meta-fictional show is that you can make a comment about what is happening on stage in the way the characters treat it, and thereby comment on these issues in the theatre world in which we live.
Fortunately this was the only sour note in a pitch perfect show.
I hope to make a better impression on the cast and crew than the reviewer character, and hope they know what an absolute pleasure seeing this show was.
Bravo to all those involved.