From the creators of Chicago and Cabaret, Curtains is the impressive revival of the murder mystery by John Kander and Fred Ebb which premiered in Los Angeles in 2006. Entertaining, slick and jam-packed with stellar performances, the new version of Curtains is bound to impress even the toughest of critics! Currently, this hilarious whodunnit and Tony award winning show is on a UK tour, with Saturday 18th January being the final performance at the New Wimbledon Theatre in Wimbledon.

A musical within a musical, Curtains is the story of a Boston theatre company who perform an American West musical version of Robbin Hood. However, their musical is far from a hit – the reviews are appalling and it’s certainly not a show to die for! Ironically, Jessica Cranshaw, the leading lady with no talent, is murdered on stage on opening night during the curtain call. Everyone in the cast and crew is a suspect. Lieutenant Frank Cioffi, played by likeable Jason Manford, is the police detective called in to solve the murder. Despite his profession, he’s more than a typical detective – Cioffi is a musical theatre fanatic! He takes it upon himself not only to be a skilled sleuth, but also to help save a failing show and potentially find love in the process of this challenging investigation. Charlotte H. commented: “The detective has a stand-out role, and Manford has truly exceeded my expectations of how he should be performed.”

‘The Woman’s Dead’, an incredible number from Kander and Ebb, sees the cast and crew review the murder of Jessica, and is when the show takes off. The song features a chorus line of insincere reactions to her passing; she certainly wasn’t well liked. Curtains is an exciting ride for the audience, with twists and turns often adding to the drama of the show. Not only has it the potential to fascinate each and every audience member, capturing everyone’s attention and getting the cogs in their heads turning, it also gets the audience dying of laughter. Paul Fosters’ excellent direction compliments the creative plot, ensuring that despite the long running time, the show’s pace is just right, and Curtains remains amusing for its entire duration. The innovative production is witty, and Foster has to share the credit with the fictional director Christopher Belling, played convincingly by Samuel Holmes.

Jason Manford, who plays Frank Cioffi, is known for his work in TV and comedy, and his experience really does shine through. He brings charm, authority and enthusiasm to Cioffi’s role, as well comedy when he ends up falling for one of the fictional show’s main actresses. Carley Stenson, who has previously played Fantine in Les Miserables and Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, takes on the role of Georgia Hendricks, who picks up where Jessica left of, and whose vocals impress both the fictional cast and the audience. However, Rebecca Lock, who acts out Carmen Berstein, truly steals the show! She has many hilarious one-liners and her singing is powerful and well projected, solidifying her musical theatre ability. The songs ‘Show People’ and ‘It’s a Business’ are not only lyrically great, but also performed incredibly by Lock. Playing Carmen’s daughter ‘Bambi’, Emma Caffrey is a skilled dancer and extremely well-suited to her role, never failing to make the audience laugh.

Though Curtains is a murder mystery, it also makes fun of theatre archetypes like the director, the producer and the theatre critic. ‘The Woman’s Dead’, ‘Show People’ and ‘He Did It’ are all impressive and all poke fun at musicals and performers alike. Curtains doesn’t shy away from puns - it utilises them to continue this light-hearted ridicule of the theatre. The show’s humour can be appreciated by the entire audience and the production is suitable for everyone above the age of 12. Though multiple murders take place on stage and guns are used in the performance, the level of threat in the musical is perfectly acceptable for teenagers. The language isn’t offensive, and the comedy aspect of Curtains is perfectly appropriate for everyone age 12+.

David Woodhead is responsible for the set design, which alternates between a fittingly amateur Robbin Hood theatre stage and the backstage of the fictional theatre. Meanwhile, Alistair David is the choreographer of the well-rehearsed dance routines (the Robbin Hood western dances are particularly impressive). The costumes for the Robbin Hood sections of the musical are excellent: period details, appropriate colours and visible textures are all incorporated into the women’s dresses and men’s shirts and cowboy fringe trousers. The costumes of the characters are also fitting to their personalities and roles in the musical: from detective Frank Cioffi’s formal suit, to Carmen’s dress with a fur neckline which is accessorised with a statement necklace, everyone looks the part. Gabriella Slade did an excellent job with the costume design, helping to shape the audience’s impressions of the characters.

Curtains oozes professionalism and charm; the cast and crew’s hard work and talent are extremely evident. It is a musical whodunnit which needs to be seen – it’s certainly intriguing and mood-lifting! Cabaret, Chicago and now Curtains, the triple-threat trio from Kander and Ebb, have all been well-received by keen audiences and if you’re yet to see Curtains, you’re certainly not going to be disappointed.