Stage-struck detective is a winner in ‘Curtains’ at Arvada Center

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“Curtains” is a light, clever musical, perfect fare for a summer evening at the Arvada Center. It was written by Rupert Holmes, with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, who wrote “Cabaret” and “Chicago” — not quite the depth of either, but entertaining.

As always at this Equity theater, the cast is skilled and production values of set, lighting, sound, costumes are well above average. Set in Boston’s Colonial Theater in 1957, the musical opened in Los Angeles first and then moved to Broadway with David Hyde Pierce in the lead. He won a Tony for his role as the stage-struck cop.

Gavin Mayer directs this spoofy piece about murder backstage, play within a play, somewhat convoluted storyline.

Lights go up on the opening night production of “Robbin’ Hood,” a Western version of the ancient story. Just as the curtain falls, the off-key leading lady keels over. Cast and crew are glad to be rid of her, but what next?

Lt. Frank Cioffi (Jim Poulos) appears to say that Jessica Cranshaw has been murdered and he’s there to investigate. Turns out, he also has acted in community theater and has a weakness for musicals. So as the show progresses, he alternates between solving the crime and subsequent murders and making quiet suggestions to improve the shaky “Robbin’ Hood.”

And, of course, there’s a romance as he becomes smitten with understudy actress Niki Harris — and really hopes she’s not the murderer.

Colin Alexander almost overplays swishy director Christopher Belling, who decides to replace the late Cranshaw with Georgia Hendricks (Lauren Shealy), divorced from songwriter Aaron Fox (Jeffrey Roark). They manage to get together again, despite her fling with leading man Bobby Pepper … And then we have brassy producer Carmen Bernstein (the great Megan Van De Hay) whose adversarial relationship with sleazy husband Sidney (Mark Rubald) leads to his demise.

Numerous other characters weave in and out, dancing as they go with Kitty Skillman Hillsabeck’s choreography. The initial murder is finally solved and there are two more during the evening, adding to the confusion.

But never fear—all ends well. And despite the murders, it’s quite a delightful concoction. And guess who show up in the finale?

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