Date 17th May 2024
Society Riverside Musical Theatre Company
Venue Park View theatre, Chester-le-Street
Type of Production Musical
Director Stephanie Corbett
Musical Director Suzy Wake
Choreographer Julie J Laws


Author: Gordon Richardson

Curtains was a musical I’d never seen before but so much wanted to see – I wasn’t disappointed by the wait…

In the ‘show within a show’ theme the production followed an off Broadway (Boston) opening night of the musical “Robbin’ Hood” with a singularly untalented leading lady who collapses into a faint at the end of the show final bows. She is taken to hospital where upon her dying it is established she has been in fact murdered in plain sight of everyone in the audience.

This single spoiler (which is the only one you’ll get) is the premise of a genuinely intriguing ‘whodunit’ mystery set amidst the background of musical theatre and a detective who comes in to investigate who is supremely in awe of musical theatre and ‘show people’.

As with all good whodunit’s (think Agatha Christie) there are lots of suspects; is it ‘Niki Harris’ (Catherine Bartley) the understudy to the victim – Catherine excelled in the role as ‘Niki’ whilst forming a relationship with the incoming detective ‘Frank Cioffi’ (Alex Easten) – is it to further her career, divert suspicion, or a genuine enjoyment of his company. Alex had just the right touch of ‘awe’ about him whilst still having the steely determination to solve the mystery. Alex deserves special mention for coming into the role because of illness with only five weeks to opening night and made the role his own – well done.

Also, suspects are ‘Aaron Fox’ and ‘Georgia Hendricks’ (Jonny Robson and Aslee Bentham) as the songwriting duo for the show – Georgia is propelled to take over the lead and Aaron jealousy leads to their being on the radar of ‘Cioffi’ – Both Ashlee and Jonny sang and acted well in their respective roles and the audience was ‘willing’ them not to be the murderer(s).

‘Bobby Pepper’ (Dylan Stobbs) was the male lead of the show and the cause of Aaron’s jealousy – Dylan had just the right blend of self-assuredness and was believable in the role.
‘Christopher Belling’ (Alex Neal) was the fussy ‘director’ of the show – always anxious to get the best from his actors – Alex played to role wonderfully and those of us in musical theatre ‘recognised’ the character immediately.

‘Sidney’ and ‘Carmen Bernstein’ (Nick Bevan and Julie J Laws) were the estranged husband and wife duo of which ‘Carmen’ was producer of the show – Julie acted the role superbly and she oozed self-confidence. Carmen’s daughter ‘Bambi’ (Erin Anderson) desperate for a role in the production – was she sufficiently motivated to murder for the role – Erin certainly played the role with determination.

Was it ‘Daryl Grady’ (Dan Ellis) – waspish theatre critique who didn’t pull any punches – Dan played the role as though he was enjoying it – who doesn’t want to be a theatre critic at times LOL.
How about ‘Jonny Harmon’ (Andy Barton) the stage manager with access all areas – and with knowledge of all the cast’s secrets… Andy certainly made himself a suspect though his actions.
‘Oscar Shapiro’ (Roy Evans) – the financial backer of the production company – Roy played the role pleasantly – was he a murderer?

So, a closed set – nowhere for the murderer to escape to, a detective with a penchant for musical theatre, several on and offstage love interests, multitudes of suspects and a ‘show’ to put on – this was an ideal medium for Riverside to flourish – and succeed they did.

A bright, colourful production with catchy numbers, OTT characters, great choreography, wonderful ensemble and a whodunit running through the threads – well done Riverside, Steph and the whole production team on and off stage. - this was a thoroughly enjoyable production.

Oh, and by the way the murderer was…………..