RANDOLPH, NJ- What do you get when you cross a play-within-a play, a western, and a whodunit murder mystery? This isn’t a riddle, folks - it’s a summary of Curtains, the musical that Randolph High School put on this weekend, March 13 and 14.
Decidedly less-known than last year’s musical, Damn Yankees, this year’s play brought something unexpected and refreshing to the table - instead of a classic, all-American style musical about baseball, Curtains is comical and upbeat and leaves audiences humming along to the songs and dance numbers long after they’ve left the theater.
Set in the 1950s, the story follows the cast of the failing off-Broadway musical “Robin' Hood,” as their star Jessica Cranshaw (Alex Stifelman, ‘16) is found murdered on opening night. The consequent investigation forces them to stay sequestered in the theater while Lt. Frank Cioffi (Jason Perniciaro, ‘17), a local detective who moonlights as a theater fan, investigates the crime.
As the cast and crew of “Robbin’ Hood” try to figure out for themselves who killed their star, they scramble to fill her shoes in order to impress nasty critic Daryl Grady of the Boston Globe (Jake Diamint, ‘17), who seems dead-set on preventing their play from going to Broadway.
Between rehearsals, detective Cioffi takes a liking to understudy Niki Harris (Isabel Litterst, ‘17), composer-turned-star Georgia Hendricks (Emily Weiner, ‘15) and her estranged husband Aaron Fox (Christian Harvey, ‘17) try to rekindle their love, and even more characters get caught in the crossfire as the show’s producer Sidney Bernstein (Nick Geannakakes ‘15) and stage manager Johnny Harmon (Peter Geannakakes ‘16) both turn up dead as well.
Comic relief is provided in heavy doses by the show’s exuberant British director Christopher Belling (Vincent D’Alessandro ‘16), overzealous chorus member Bambi Bernet (Emily Cyrier ‘16), and the brash and brazen Carmen Bernstein (Rachel Malaga, ‘17) the other half of a producing team with her husband.
Between a multitude of memorable songs, intricate dances, and endless witty jokes, the audience is left guessing the identity and motives of the murderer, and it makes for a truly unique production in all facets.
The show featured a cast and crew that may well be the most talented RHS has seen in years. With the help of its team of directors and advisors including Ms. Michele Danna, Mr. Matthew Swiss, and Mr. Joseph Kralovich, each and every student involved had their chance to shine.
RHS Drama Club vice president Emily Weiner said, “This show could not have been more perfectly casted. Everyone brings something so unique to their character and I think that adds something so invaluable to the show...I couldn't be more grateful to be sharing my last show with this group of obscenely talented kids and directors."
Drama club president Vincent D’Alessandro agreed, noting how the cast never allowed missed rehearsals or other setbacks deter them from reaching their goal: “The rehearsal process is very rewarding because we have three cohesive directors who have all perfected their crafts, which greatly helps us improve ours.”
Putting on a play is always a challenge, but it is truly a gift to be able to see the outcome of such great talent and effort on the part of everyone involved. “Curtains was one of the most difficult musicals we could have picked this year due to the nature of the play being one continuous scene,” explained D’Alessandro, “but I think in the end, the audience really seemed to enjoy it, which is all that matters.”
If you missed out on the spring musical, there’s one last chance to catch the RHS drama club in action: be sure to check out the 3rd Annual One-Act Festival on May 29.