Charlie Rader is directing this musical comedy whodunit from the creators of “Cabaret” & “Chicago” set to run November 12-21 at the LSC Theater in Loveland. Auditions happened in early August with the cast rehearsing for three months since then. They’ve overcome all kinds of COVID challenges to be ready for audiences to enjoy the production.
“Curtains” is a terrific sleeper hit,” said Rader. “This was a 2007 Tony Award Winner with David Hyde Pierce nominated for ‘Best Actor’. One of the songs was actually featured on the Tony Awards broadcast. I actually remember seeing it then.”
The show comes from the musical team John Kander and Fred Ebb. It was Ebb’s last show. Rader says he actually passed away during creation of the show. One of the show’s numbers, Thinking of Him, is actually a remembrance to him. Rader promises a lot of great music; a tradition in LSC productions.
“Yes, live music is a staple at LSC,” Rader said. “For “Curtains”, we’ll have a live 13 piece orchestra.”
Vocal Director Becky Jones is also a woodwind member of the orchestra as well as an LSC Board member. It is also interesting to note the “Curtains” Music Director Jeanne Bilyeu plays the part of Sasha, the conductor, in the show.
“Bilyeu has a song at the beginning of Act 2,” Rader said. “So, lots of people have multiple roles just like our “Robbin’ Hood “cast.”
Rader calls it a “charming modern musical” with music from 2007, but set in 1959 Boston, it conjures up classic theater like “Oklahoma”, “42nd Street” and others similar to those. It has a classic musical feel to it.
“Then, we get the twist,” explained Rader. “On opening night, our leading lady comes back from bows, stumbles, collapses and the next day she’s dead. And whodunit is this show.”
So, a classic retro-musical, whodunit, soap-opera love triangles and classic humor with lots of inside theater jokes. After all, the story is set inside of a theater. It has a little something for everyone with music, song, dance, humor and mystery.
“Fans of musical theater will get it,” said Rader. “Then the fans who may not love musical theater so much, but enjoy a good mystery get to see that develop as well. It has just as much plot and murder mystery development as it does great songs and dance numbers.”
Dance numbers promise to be a highlight for the audiences as well with Loveland Stage Company choreographer and dance instructor Marjory Clegg directing the choreography. She has taught the “wonderful cast” seven dances to be performed throughout the show.
“One number is a big tap number. It’s called “Tough Act to Follow”, said Clegg. “Some of the guys especially, and even some of the women had never danced with tap shoes on before. Everybody bought tap shoes and they’re tapping. I am so proud of them.”
Clegg says they’ve worked really hard. Cast members amazed her with their desire to succeed. That translates to fun for the audience. She explained there is more than tap though.
“The show starts with “Wide Open Spaces” kind of a country hoedown thing,” Clegg said. “Kansas Land” has a very surprising part in the middle with a couple – there’s a lot of lifts. The woman is Jenna Schroeder; she is absolutely fantastic.”
There is the country flavor, sophisticated dance, and the tap. Clegg “In the same Boat” as a big number near the end.
“There’s three different groups doing three different dance steps and singing different words at the same time,” she said. “It’s kind of like a round. It’s very unique. The ending is very upbeat.”
Rader directs a cast of 30 performers to deliver a wide variety of entertainment. What is going to stand out for the audience?
“Kander-Ebb music is going to be in there,” said Rader. “There’s a number of little earworms we’ve been living with for months now. We wake up to strains of “Thataway” or “Show People”’ maybe not “Wide Open Spaces” so much, but then the Ebb tribute of “Thinking of Him – Missing the Music”. There is wonderful ballads, big show numbers, I’d say the music is predominant, but there is great story that helps string together the reason for these numbers.”
The cast of performers string together the music, songs, and dances with a murder mystery filled with theater humor. It includes performers in the ensembles who came from all around and typically are lead performers. They have a 13-piece live orchestra, a stage crew directed by Glenna Knapp, light design by Bob Kessler and a sound engineer bringing it all together on stage. Rader chose the show after hearing “Thataway” from the show and discovering the elements and the music. He found it fun.
“I still get belly laughs out of this,” Rader said. “My cast is hitting the notes, the jokes just perfectly.”
Rader wouldn’t give away any secrets, but did say audiences will want to pay close attention as Act I comes to a close. Ken Macke plays the lead role of Lieutenant Frank Cioffi performed by David Hyde-Pierce in the Tony Award-winning Broadway production. Cioffi is a grizzled veteran homicide detective whose love of musicals leads to a strange twist while he’s investigating the murders.
“He not only has to figure out whodunit, but he also figures out how to save the show,” said Rader. “He comes to be in charge of the show. Ken embodies his earnestness and sincerity and toughness at the same time.”
There are a couple love triangles, but the romantic interest, female lead is Niki Harris played by LSC newcomer Mary Jo Bissmeyer.
“She is an absolute treasure,” Rader said. “She came into our auditions and blew us away. It’s been an absolute joy to work with Mary Jo throughout the entire rehearsal process.”
Rader invites the public to fill the seats for “Curtains” at Loveland Stage Company.
“It will entertain you at so many levels,” he said. “It will bring you a witty and thoughtful story. It will bring together touching vocal performances with beautiful ballads. Then we have show-stopper numbers with tremendous choreography. It is a triple threat of a show.”
LOVELAND STAGE COMPANY PRESENTS: “CURTAINS”
When: Friday’s & Saturday’s: November 12,13, 19 & 20 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday’s: November 7,14 & 21 matinee show times at 3:00 p.m.
Where: Loveland Stage Company Theater – 111 S. 2nd St. (S.R. 48) Loveland, OH 45140
NOTE: Due to revised opening date (Moved from 11/5 to 11/12) Producers of the show are looking into adding additional dates to make-up the dates lost on original opening weekend.
Tickets and more info at: www.lovelandstagecompany.org.