Curtains at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

Curtains | Nicole Navigates

[AD – Press] These tickets were complimentary in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

“We’re a special kind of people known as show people, we live in a world of our own” – and you will be in a world of your own from watching this comedic musical theatre show!

Curtains is the star-dazzling, showbiz, funny whodunnit comedy that will have everyone laughing, bobbing along to the choreography and going away with the catchy show tunes in their head – and it’s here at Royal & Derngate!

With music and lyrics by the legendary Broadway duo, Kander & Ebb, Curtains has come from the West End to Northampton to wow audiences.

Knowing the show, but not necessarily the storyline and music, whether you know it or not, it’s a great night out at the theatre of which everyone can get “in the same boat”! 

Photo by Richard Davenport

Firstly, the set itself from first appearance struck me as very vintage and Broadway, almost quite Metro-Goldwyn Mayer! I loved the dramatic appearance of the red curtain that fell from the golden structure above. 

Starring comedy legend and stage actor, Jason Manford, who I last recall seeing in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and most recently being revealed as The Hedgehog on ‘The Masked Singer’ which proved just how brilliant he is as a singer and performer.

His performance of Lieutenant Frank Cioffi had the perfect mixture of everything; he was funny, quick-witted, heartwarming and on top of everything else, a great singer and actor.

His accent was incredibly convincing and his distractions from his investigations to trying to help put on a spectacular show, along with his own dreams of being in the theatre, made for very light entertainment. 

His relationship with Niki Harris, a fellow actress as part of the ensemble, played by Leah Barbara West reminded me of the classic hopeless romantics you see in vintage films and theatre, which felt super fitting for this show. She also has a beautiful soprano voice which you can’t help but awe over in their duet “A Tough Act To Follow”. 

Photo by Richard Davenport

Other stand-out supporting roles from the night for me were Carley Stenson with her fiery performance of ”Thataway” and equally as fiery relationship with on-off lover and writing partner, Aaron Fox played by Ore Oduba; who was sensational in the part.

His singing voice was slightly weaker at the top notes, but the way he puts his heart and soul into the performance when singing “I Miss The Music” was stunning. He really has found his place on the stage! 

I also couldn’t help but chuckle loads over Samual Holmes very eccentric portrayal of Director, Christopher Belling who came out with the most hilarious innuendos and jokes and lit up the stage every time he walked on with his charisma and sarcasm! 

And Rebecca Lock, who played Carmen Bernstein, bitter wife of Sidney Bernstein and determined producer of the show, was another great supporting role to this already strong cast and ultimately, she gave the show a bit of sass!

Photo by Richard Davenport

The whole show gave me nostalgia over my time in theatre and studying Musical Theatre at University, especially with some of the dramatics that happen from costume changes, rehearsals and curtain drops (but not quite as dramatic as an on-stage death!)

One technical hiccup, which I noticed during but realised afterward, was the scene just before the interval where there was a curtain up-and-down moment and you can see one of the actors on the floor, which was then spoken about in Act 2 as them being hung from a rope. 

Obviously, a big part of the story that unfortunately didn’t carry over well, BUT I think considering the circumstances, they covered it well and acted like complete professionals – plus, to the naked eye, you probably wouldn’t notice! 

One of my favourite scenes of the night was how they put the three different tunes together to make one epic mashup song as their final number of the show – it really brought everything together for the show and this show!

I also giggled at Manford’s and Lock’s reference near the end about “you never know who may be watching in the audience” followed by a cheeky glare at the audience, knowing fully well, it was press night.

So hey, Jason Manford, I was in the audience and I really liked the show! 

Photo by Richard Davenport

Overall, it’s a stellar night out at the theatre and this very underrated musical theatre show has been given a whole spritz of sparkle with a star-studded cast, strong ensemble and is bringing the magic of Kander & Ebb’s songs to a new light. 

Make sure you head ‘Thataway’ to Royal & Derngate to see Curtains which is showing till Saturday! Tickets can be purchased here.

Rating: ★★★★


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