I did not know it at the time, but the first twenty seconds of Covenant Day School’s “Curtains” set the mood for the rest of the performance. Soon after the lights dimmed, the curtain shifted, and conductor Sasha Minsky (Garrett Moseley) casually walked onstage and sat down next to the orchestra director, who was leading the orchestra in a suspenseful tune. Sasha proceeded to dramatically direct alongside her, eyes closed in rapture.
The scene was effortlessly simple, yet the audience was intrigued. This sense of wonderment, well-executed acting and supreme entertainment prevailed throughout the rest of the performance.
“Curtains,” set in the 1960s, is a suspenseful murder mystery about a cast attempting to redeem its reputation after an atrocious opening night, during which the untalented lead actress was murdered backstage. The next day, rehearsals continue, as a theater-obsessed detective investigates the scene of the crime and interrogates suspects.
The balance between the mystery of a spectacular second performance and the mystery of the murder keeps the audience engaged in both plot lines. “Curtains” is a comedy at heart, without the typical intensity of a murder mystery. However, despite the lack of fearful tension, the drama is nonetheless engaging, which was evident from the audience’s surprise at every loud gunshot.
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While there was nothing vastly innovative about Covenant Day School’s “Curtains,” the cast’s overall performance made it stand out as exceptional. Despite being a little overbearing, the orchestra was talented.
Georgia Hendricks (Even Bertram), the lead of the show who replaces the late Jessica Cranshaw (Camille deBrun), led the production’s vocal performance with striking range and beautiful tones. The director, Christopher Belling (Sam Mitchell), was hilarious and delivered his constant stream of sarcasm and wit with impeccable timing. The producer, Carmen Bernstein (Rebekah Lee), drew the audience in with her rasp and cruel charm and perfectly executed every line she spoke or sang.
The large ensemble’s reactions and dance numbers were flawless. Another exceptional element was the physical chemistry, both between Hendricks and ex-husband Aaron Fox (Matthew McKnight) and between detective Frank Cioffi (Caleb Clarke) and his newfound sweetheart, Niki Harris (Samantha Choi). Sparks flew between these star-crossed lovers from the first scene to the curtain call.
The charm of the production made up for the few moments it fell short. McKnight’s vocal solo, “I Miss the Music,” was not quite up to par, though his expressions and emotion saved the moment. Also, the climax of the drama when the killer is revealed was less than satisfactory. For fear of ruining suspense, the murderer will remain anonymous, but I cannot write a complete review without mentioning the culprit’s poor acting.
Despite the small missteps, “Curtains” was quite inspiring. The last take of “In the Same Boat” in the second act was prodigious. Overall, the choreography and vocal performances were impressive. In the end, it was simply tragic when the curtains fell for the last time, and the spell was broken.