Friday, October 12, 2007

Curtains (The SOB Revisit)

Curtains (The SOB Revisit) - Al Hirschfeld Theatre, New York, NY

**** (out of ****)

Ever go see a musical where one solitary song follows you wherever you go? For over a week?

That's been my experience ever since last Sunday when I once again went "Thataway" to see Curtains, a show I first saw during its Los Angeles tryout over one year ago. Act One's final tune "Thataway," which only mildly captured my attention upon my first viewing (and which I had tended to skip over when listening to the cast album), somehow has burrowed its way inside my mind. I find myself waking up with the clever tune still playing in my head.

In my original review, I called Curtains a "real honest-to-goodness old-fashioned backstage musical." I recognized that some fine-tuning would take place, but there was little to quibble about.

Apart from a couple tunes being reordered -- "Kansasland," Curtains' homage to Oklahoma! now comes a tad later, while "A Tough Act To Follow" appears earlier -- most of what I saw in Los Angeles remains intact. Sure, a couple minor casting changes have occurred, most notably with Broadway veteran Ernie Sabella assuming the role of Sidney Bernstein from Robert Walden. But thanks to Scott Ellis' guiding hand, Curtains now zings with even sharper precision.

David Hyde Pierce -- and the rest of the cast, for that matter -- have never been more on their game. Tony-winner Pierce and Jill Paice are breathtaking in their sweet duet, the aforementioned "A Tough Act To Follow." Debra Monk, Megan Sikora and Edward Hibbert have never been funnier. Noah Racey has never danced better. (Although could someone please tell me why the fantastically talented Jim Newman hasn't been scooped up for bigger roles?) And Jason Danieley's "I Miss The Music" (written by John Kander as a lasting tribute to his late musical partner Fred Ebb) is even more poignant this second time around.

Fortunately for me, with "Thataway" ringing in my brain, I won't miss the music anytime soon.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:

SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Top Ten Of The Year (June 4, 2007)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Best New Musicals (May 22, 2007)
Amazing Candor From Amazing Kander (March 28, 2007)
Did Curtains Rise On Critics' Reviews? (March 23, 2007)
Curtains Finally Open On New Kander & Ebb Tuner (March 22, 2007)
Honorable Mentions: SOB's Singular Sensations Of '06 (December 30, 2006)
Curtains To Rise At Al Hirschfeld Theatre In March (November 3, 2006)
Curtains Meets the Critics (August 10, 2006)
Curtains (The SOB Review) (August 10, 2006)
Curtains Set to Rise on Curtains Tonight in LA (August 9, 2006)
Curtains Pulls Advance Buzz (August 1, 2006)
Curtains' Calling on Broadway? (July 24, 2006)
Kander and Ebb's Curtains Set to Rise in LA This Summer (May 11, 2006)

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At 12 October, 2007, Blogger Esther said...

Hey Steve:

I'm glad to know "Curtains" didn't lose anything on the transition from L.A. to Broadway.

I remember when I was planning my first trip to Broadway, nearly a year ago, and I asked you for a recommendation if, by some chance, I wanted to see a show WITHOUT Kevin Spacey. I was leaning toward "Spamalot," (ironically, David Hyde Pierce's previous musical). You suggested "Curtains," telling me that it was everything a Broadway musical should be. Well, you were definitely right about that. Since then, I've seen eight more Broadway musicals, but there's something special about "Curtains."

Part of it is the fact that it's a show celebrating the theater. Part of it was sitting so close. Part of it was seeing a show shortly after the beginning of its run, with the original cast. Part of it was how it encapsulated the entire Broadway experience - including David Hyde Pierce breaking the fourth wall at the end of the show to talk about Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and meeting the entire cast at the stage door. I really got a feeling for the sense of community and the closeness between Broadway actors and their fans.

But beyond those reasons, it's also such a fun show, with a great ensemble cast, great songs and dance routines. You've hit on so many of the high points, which I also loved, including Noah Racey's dancing, and David Hyde Pierce and Jill Paice's duet, and the poignancy of "I Miss the Music." I also loved Debra Monk in "It's a Business," and of course, "Show People." What a great comedian! I have to admit, every time I hear on the cast CD that line about the theater being a temple, and Monk responds, "What, so it should only be open on Shabbos?" I laugh. Her delivery is so perfect!

When I first came home, I didn't have the cast CD to listen to, and the show faded from my mind a bit. But since it came out, I've been listening repeatedly, and gaining even more appreciation for the humor and music, and remembering again a very memorable evening.

You were right. It is everything a Broadway musical should be. Thanks for the recommendation!

At 13 October, 2007, Blogger Esther said...

How was Robert Walden in the L.A. production? I just realized that he's the same Robert Walden who played reporter Joe Rossi in "Lou Grant." I would love to have seen him on stage!

At 13 October, 2007, Blogger Mondschein said...

Surely it's an oversight, but no mention of the oh-so-talented Karen Ziemba?

I think she's terrific in everything I've seen her do. I hate that I didn't get to see her in "Steel Pier" several years ago.

At 15 October, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther, Curtains is everything a Broadway musical can be, including touching. I think when the day comes that they decide to revive this gem, the critics will finally take to it as if it's a great profound discovery. At least you and I know how good it is now.

As for Robert Walden, yes, he's the same guy from "Lou Grant." He was fine, but of course, the role is fairly small, even if memorable.

At 15 October, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Mondschein, Excellent eye you have there.

I would have mentioned Karen Ziemba had she been in it the day I saw it. In her place was Darcie Roberts, who delivered an impeccable performance.

However, there's no "Curse of the Understudy" here since I have seen Ziemba in the role before.

At 23 January, 2008, Blogger buddyindc1 said...

Curtains was outstanding. It was complete enjoyment from start to finish. - old fashioned Broadway that can't fail to entertain. After the show, every cast member exited the stage door with a Sharpie pen in their hand. I have never seen such methodical program signing. The fans who waited in the cold were appreciative. David Hyde Pierce, Debra Monk and every other cast member signed every program and posed with every fan who wanted a picture. That's entertainment!

At 23 January, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Buddy, So glad you enjoyed. I do think this is an underappreciated sundae of a musical. Does it go boldly where no other musical has gone before. No. But it scores on being smart, fun and exceedingly entertaining, and the fact that it has a sparkling cast is the cherry on top of this delicious confection.


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