MUSICAL 'whoddunnit' Curtains sounded like just my cup of tea and I was excited for the opening at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre on a cold wintry Tuesday night — but it took a while to warm up.
Now, I’m not saying there was anything wrong with the cast, music or production in itself, far from it, but when I heard it was a “hilarious whodunnit” I expected to be laughing right from the off.
The enjoyable opening scene is set within a dazzling musical production of Robin Hood with a Western twist, performed at an outside theatre in Boston, which is hopefully soon-to-be Broadway bound.
But just seconds after the final curtain, star of the show Jessica Cranshaw (played by Nia Jermin) drops dead on stage.
Unaware of her death, the show’s financial backer Oscar Shaprio (Martin Callaghan), songwriters Georgia Hendricks (former Hollyoaks actor Carley Stenson) and Aaron Fox (Strictly Come Dancing winner Ore Oduba), and director Carmen Bernstein (Rebecca Lock), take in the disappointing press reviews. I was impressed by Oduba and Stenson’s vocal abilities and the pair had great chemistry.
As Jessica’s death is revealed, TV comic Jason Manford makes his stage debut as investigating officer Lieutenant Frank Cioffi, who bans the entire cast from leaving the theatre until the mystery death is solved.
The production really started to come alive towards the end of the first act when a second murder takes place. The comedic element was ramped up and by part two I was in stitches.
Samuel Holmes as Robin Hood musical director Christopher Belling gave a standout performance thanks to his clever comedy one-liners. And Jason Manford certainly proved he’s a man of many talents — comedy, singing, dancing and acting.
Overall, the music, staging and plot twists were fantastic and the entire cast was superb.
It may have been a bit slow on the laughs to start off with but the ending was strong and stunning.
The show is at the Lyceum until Saturday.