Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Barn Players "Curtains" review by BobEvans

Murder, Laughter, Music & Curtains 
Rating: 5

The Barn Players, Inc.

CURTAINS, now in production at The Barn returns musical comedy to times of simple plot, fun-lively music, funny characters, bright costumes, dance, and an all-around enjoyable evening of theatre. Curtains, though a current musical, feels like a 1960s style large cast musical with no dark plot and no drama.

Curt Crespino leads a very talented cast though the evening of murder, accusations, sub-plots, and resolution. The story line that mixes Sherlock Holmes with the Busby Berkley style Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney type plots. Crespino's portrayal and performance gets and deserves standing ovations. "The show must go on" idea lures detective, Lieutenant Frank Coffi, (Crespino) to investigate a murder of the out-of-town premiere of a Broadway-bound production. The show, horrible by all standards, looks to close after bad reviews spell curtains for the show and the cast. In this case, the leading lady dies after the curtain call for the opening show. So begins the plot: solve the murder of the show's star and consider all cast members as suspects.

Crespino brings fun, merriment, and some good laughs as he leads his cast and suspect list through the piece that strings song after song to tell the story. Niki Harris, the understudy with a lot to gain, (played by Sarah Dothage) just seems to find and handle all the clues, leaving her fingerprints on all pieces of evidence. Georgia Hendricks, (portrayed by JC Dresslaer) a lyricist forced into collaboration again with her former husband, certainly has motive to commit murder. Carmen Bernstein, portrayed by Kay Noonan, certainly scores high on the suspect list (and wears a lot of sinister black costumes). Carmen loses big bucks if the show fails because of an untalented star. Aaron Fox, the songwriter, portrayed by Kevin Bogan does not appear to have motive, but the audience needs to watch carefully because everyone is a suspect. Dana Arnott's character, Bambi Bernet, stands to gain a leg up if all pieces fall into place, and she might be trying to protect the family's investment. So, audience members need to consider her a likely suspect as well. Bobby Pepper (Brian Shortess) seems to have little or no motive, so he's another character to watch. The director and stage manager (Trevor French and Chip Buckner) though very likable both have opportunity for murder. They are not on stage when the murder occurs. That leaves only the fading and untalented and soon deceased star of the show, Jessica Cranshaw (Stasha Case) off the suspect list. Hmmmm......

Credit the director for creating such a fun piece with a talented cast. The movement and choreography of this production surpass other Barn productions, and it's evident from the dancing of Dana Arnott and Brian Shortess that each possess superior dancing and acting talent. Without movement, this show would be stiff. The leads understand their characters and deliver solid performances throughout the show. Audiences will not see lapses in character or weakness from any of the aforementioned performers and suspects. Trevor French, provides many smiles as a masculine-challenged director who takes his character about as far as he can without going overboard with him. Yes, it's a flamboyant stereotype character, but he plays it with finesse and laughter. As for Crespino's bungling detective, imagine a mix of Colombo and Sherlock Holmes, singing and dancing. Shake those all together to get an idea of his character. Kay Noonan as Carmen stands out as the villainess that keeps the mirth alive with the attitude and performance she gives. She knows how to perform her music and she knows how to develop her character-- great job on this for the production. And for singing, the talents of Crespino, JC Dressler, Kevin Bogan, and Brian Shortess stand out. Their voices, strong and clear, enhance the production.

All in all, The Barn's production of CURTAINS deserves sold out performances. Kudos to the cast and crew for creating a fun and memorable evening. The show comes highly recommended.

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