“Curtains” : a stand-out production

Ilana Mermelstein, Staff Writer

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“Curtains,” a murder mystery musical, has found a home on Milton’s stage this spring. Set in Boston, 1959, the musical follows “Robbin’ Hood,” the show-within-the-show. With a rather unexceptional leading lady, “Robbin’ Hood” receives negative reviews on its opening night, thwarting the production team’s efforts to bring it to Broadway. However, larger issues arise when it is revealed that the leading lady has been murdered by someone in the theatre. Chalked full of entertaining musical numbers, eccentric characters, and shocking plot twists, “Curtains” debuted on Broadway in 2007 and earned 8 nominations at the Tony Awards including Best Musical. 12 years later, the show astounds audiences at Milton High School, and for good reason. Milton’s production of “Curtains” successfully achieves the humor and enthusiasm of the show, while also highlighting the more vulnerable moments, offering audiences a dynamic and eclectic performance.


Senior Harrison Lewis stars as Lieutenant Frank Cioffi, the quirky detective tasked with solving the theatre’s murder. Lewis executes a genuine performance as Cioffi, exuding likeability from the moment he enters the scene until he takes his bow. Through his skillful balance of the vulnerability of his character with the humor of the script, Lewis offers a multi-faceted version of Cioffi; thus, his portrayal is all the more believable by audiences. Lewis’s authentic performance contributes to the show’s persisting comedy, making him a driving force in the progression of the musical. Lewis effectively captivates the audience through his performance, placing him as one of the most memorable performers in “Curtains.”


Eli Hutchinson, also a Milton senior, serves as the comic relief of the musical in his performance as Director Christopher Belling. In a role that demands a powerful presence and stellar timing, Hutchinson delivers effectively, providing audiences with never-ending laughs at his witty one-liners. He enlivens the duller moments within the show and thus maintains the pace of the storytelling. Through this role in the progression of the musical, Hutchinson serves as the glue that holds the many components of “Curtains” together, ensuring the success of the performance.


Senior Gracie McMillan portrays Carmen Bernstein, the producer of “Robbin’ Hood” who is desperate to take the show to Broadway, despite negative reviews. McMillan shines in the role, achieving all the glamour and sarcasm necessary to create a memorable performance. She provides stellar vocals for two of the show’s major musical numbers, “Show People” and “It’s a Business,” making these songs two of the many showstoppers in the musical. Throughout “Curtains,” McMillan exudes strength and confidence in both her vocal and physical performances, making her vulnerable dialogue with Lewis at the end of the show all the more significant to audiences.


While the leading cast defines much of the production’s success, another prominent factor is the choreography as displayed by the ensemble. “Curtains” boasts choreography by Ann-Marie Sepé, a former Off-Broadway performer and new addition to the Milton production team. The choreography featured in the show is intentional in that it contributes to the tone of each musical number, making it an effective tool in driving the plot forward. Furthermore, Ann-Marie Sepé made a point to highlight the entire cast in her choreography, as it features the trained dancers in the cast while also incorporating the entire ensemble. The choreography of “Curtains” plays a major role in the quality of the production, elevating it to a professional level.


In addition to professional choreography, “Curtains” showcases direction from David Hopkins, Milton’s resident drama director with experience in all facets of the theatre industry. Each aspect of the production is a purposeful agent of storytelling, and the direction is no different. All movement within scenes feels realistic and natural from an audience perspective, contributing to the progression of the story and the authenticity of the humor. However, the most prominent component of the direction is Hopkins’s use of the steps and floor beside the stage. In the more vulnerable moments of the production, cast members utilize the space closer to the audience. This tactic increases the intimacy of such instances, making them all the more memorable and heart-wrenching.


All in all, Milton’s production of “Curtains” successfully encapsulates the humor and exuberance of the script and score, providing audiences with a compelling and genuine performance. With the announcement of nominations for the Shuler Awards on Wednesday, March 27, the cast and crew of “Curtains” is sure to receive good news.