Review: ‘Curtains’, ‘Fly By Night’

The cast reaches for a briefcase that may contain vital evidence

Picture this: Backstage at the Boston Colonial Theatre (in
1959), a new musical could become a Broadway smash were it not for
the talentless leading lady and a few other glitches.
‘Curtains’: An energetic offering

Picture this: Backstage at the Boston Colonial Theatre (in 1959), a new musical could become a Broadway smash were it not for the talentless leading lady and a few other glitches.

When the hapless star dies on opening night during her curtain call, Lt. Frank Cioffi arrives on the scene to conduct an investigation. But the lure of the theatre proves irresistible and Cioffi finds himself just as drawn toward making the show a hit as he is in solving the murder.

Sounds a bit campy and confusing? It is – but it’s also a lot of fun.

David Hyde Pierce (Niles Crain of “Fraser” fame) won the Tony for best actor in a musical for “Curtains” – one of eight nominations for the show in 2007. “Curtains” itself has some great songs and music by the illustrious team of John Kander and the late Fred Ebb, who gave us award winning “Cabaret” and “Chicago” – just two of the blockbuster Broadway shows they created in their 42-year collaboration.

Foothill Music Theatre’s production of “Curtains” offers an exuberant cast that entertains.

***

‘Curtains’

Where: Lohman Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills

Through: Aug. 14

Tickets: $13-$26

Details: (650) 949-7360 or visit www.foothillmusicals.com

‘Fly By Night’: An edgy exercise of life

“Fly By Night” is an odd, unusual bit of well done musical theatre. Written by Kim Rosensrtock, Michael Mitnick and Will Connolly, and aptly directed by Bill Fennelly, the play holds the attention while it rambles forward and back in time, ending up in the famous New York City blackout in 1965.

It is a rather depressing, starry-eyed story about a despondent sandwich maker who struggles through his unhappy existence, trying to find bits and pieces of happiness in his bleak world. Well-written, listenable songs wind their way through the piece and slide some of the despair of the plot into a brighter light.

A fine, solid cast includes Ian Leonard (Harold the hapless sandwich maker), Rachel Spencer Hewitt (Daphne, the starry-eyed, small town wannabe actress), Kristin Stokes (Daphne’s optimistic sister, Miriam), James Judy (Harold’s newly widowed, obsessed father who has the show stopper song near the end of the production) and Michael Mccormick (Crabbie). Wade Mccollum plays the narrator who glues the show together and keeps the piece clear and lucid.

“Fly By Night” is an exercise that shows how life should and should not be handled – an interesting lesson in metaphors.

***

‘Fly By Night’

Where: Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

Through: Aug. 13

Tickets: $19-$69

Details: (650) 463-1960 or www.theatrewworks.org.

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