by Rupert Holmes, John Kander, and Fred Ebb
directed by Scott Ellis
originally produced at Center Theatre Group,
Los Angeles, CA.
through September 10, 2006
Subsequent production at Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut. Opened on Broadway at the Bernard S. Jacobs Theatre October 5, 2008
Curtains is set in 1959 in Boston at a pre-Broadway tryout of a new musical where it is “Curtains” for the leading lady who dies mysteriously onstage during the applause at the end of the show. The entire company – the producers, the songwriters, the director, the actors, the stage manager – are possible suspects and each has a motive to be sorted out by a local detective. A fervent musical theatre fan, the detective allows the company to continue rehearsing while he conducts his murder investigation. He soon finds himself in the middle of the uproarious bedlam of theatrical egos and eccentricities, more murders, and a budding love affair.
Curtains is not only one of the last collaborations of the phenomenal John Kander and the late Fred Ebb team, it is one of their longest awaited productions – nearly two decades in development. And over that time, it has been shaped by an indisputable A-list of theatre talent, beginning with Peter Stone, who wrote Curtains’ original concept and book.
Conceived as a backstage murder mystery, Curtains evolved, both intentionally and unintentionally, into nothing less than a love letter to musical theatre. In its development and in its realization, it pays tribute to the commitment, collaboration and perseverance required by our craft. Thankfully, it does so on stage with great humor, song and dance.
I first read Curtains five years ago, thanks to director Scott Ellis, who is as responsible as anyone for enabling its world premiere at the Ahmanson. Scott was an early and big believer in Curtains. He staged its first reading at the Roundabout Theatre over seven years ago. After considerable work on the project, they staged a second reading and were preparing a third, when Stone passed away. Rupert Holmes was brought in to help finish the development process. Before another reading could be staged, Ebb passed away. This second loss made the effort to get Curtains on the stage all the more vital. So, when Scott called me once again to discuss producing it, I said “yes”.
So, finally with everything going for it, and still against all odds, I was very proud to have Center Theatre Group present the world premiere of Curtains.
Book by Rupert Holmes
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Original Book and Concept by Peter Stone
Additional Lyrics by John Kander and Rupert Holmes