Curtains by Upper Moreland High School in Willow Grove, PA
April 2, 2019
Review submitted by Annajean Gionta of Haverford High School
What kind of a show can go from a number entitled “Show People” to one called “The Woman’s Dead” and leave audiences all “In The Same Boat” of adoring praises? Upper Moreland High School’s production of Curtains sure can!
Written by Rupert Holmes, John Kander, and Fred Ebb, the musical comedy Curtains first debuted on the stage in 2006. Following a “show-within-a-show” format, the show follows the cast and crew of a new musical attempting to reach the Broadway stage. However, during its Boston previews, murder after murder occur, leaving all members of the show suspects. Through this enchanting story, hilarity, complexity, and sympathy are born.
Curtains demands much from all elements: from both actor and technical levels. Considerably so, Upper Moreland showcased a broad range of talents. Leading roles conveyed precision, the supporting cast conveyed dedication, and the ensemble conveyed enthusiasm at all times.
Leading the show was the incredibly powerful actor, singer, and dancer Christian Tuffy (Lt. Frank Cioffi). His comedic timing was sharp, his vocals were crystal clear, and his dancing was wonderfully refined as highlighted in the tap number “A Tough Act to Follow”. Leading beside him was actress Nina Vitek (Carmen Bernstein), also a power-house of a performer, particularly vocally. During songs such as “Show People” and “It’s a Business”, such was blatantly clear. Duo Liz Jones (Georgia Hendricks) and Brian Miller (Aaron Fox) also provided commendable performances and they displayed excellent chemistry.
Just as the leads of the show soared, the supporting, featured, and ensemble cast did as well. Angelina Reilly (Bambi Bernet) had no trouble stealing the spotlight as audiences craved more of her sassy character. Also impressive was Grace Farrell (Niki Harris) and her ability to play such a naive ingenue so well. Other nuanced and noteworthy featured performers included Andrew Riegel (Christopher Belling), Bodhi Childs (Bobby Pepper), and Leia Curran (Joannie Harmon). The ensemble of the show also remained consistent in efforts to engage their audiences.
Most notable about the behind-the-scenes aspects of this show was the talent of student director Conner Holm. Certainly, the scenes that he directed were some of the best in the production as they tended to convey the most emotion and creativity. While there were some microphone issues toward the beginning of the show, a swift recovery was made. The lighting of the show made for an excellent assist to the story. The lighting was vibrant and specific to the mood of each scene.
Overall, Upper Moreland performed a show that was detailed and entertaining. From those on stage to those backstage, effort and raw talents were clear. Their production truly was “A Tough Act to Follow”!
Review submitted by Aurelle Odhner of Academy of the New Church
Come to Upper Moreland High School and see all the “Show People” performing the musical murder mystery Curtains! This criminal comedy will make you die laughing before you can say “whodunit.”
Based on the original concept by Peter Stone, the Curtains musical features a book by Rupert Holmes, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and music by John Kander. The comedic plot follows Lt. Frank Cioffi, a homicide detective with a passion for theater, as he tries to shine a spotlight on the murder of the leading lady in an aspiring Broadway show, while simultaneously helping revive the production itself. The goofy detective with his infectious excitement for musical theatre brings out a love for the stage in everyone around him, and even finds some love himself among the cast.
Any show with a leading cast like Upper Moreland’s would be a “Tough Act To Follow.” Throw in some great voices, an sharp ensemble, and a tap number for good measure, and you’ve got a show with as much talent as it has humor. The cast may be dead serious about solving this murder mystery, but they’ll keep you laughing the whole way through.
The Upper Moreland cast featured some standout leads that were to-die-for. Christian Tuffy filled the central role with an endearingly jovial portrayal of Lt. Cioffi, while Carmen Bernstein, played by Nina Vitek, took center stage to belt numbers like “It’s A Business,” and had the audience hanging on every note. Grace Farrell brought a subtler talent and a lilting voice to the stage as the sweet Niki Harris, and she and Tuffy created a charming dynamic.
Among the list of suspects, or rather the supporting cast, was Liz Jones, who lent her clear voice to the part of Georgia Hendricks. Her partner in crime, Brian Miller, brought alive the role of Aaron Fox with his emotive acting, and the two complemented each other nicely. Julia Jennings as Olive Shapiro remained present and in character at every moment, and together with Miller, Jones, and Vitek, gave a remarkable rendition of “What Kind Of Man” and created countless memorable moments. Angelina Reilly also stood out as Bambi Bernét, leading the ensemble with her focused energy.
Thanks to well-organized stage management and efficient stage crew, scene changes were smooth and seamless, and the show went off without a hitch, with the exception of an occasional murder. Even more commendable was the student direction by Conner Holm in the final scenes, in which the many tangled narratives were unraveled and motives were clearly revealed.
Upper Moreland’s Curtains is a hilarious show and perfect for anyone who loves a good laugh and a murder mystery!