Curtains at the Royal & Derngate Northampton Review

25-29 February 2020

Reviewed by Jayne Wiggins

This comic whodunnit is a show with a mix of everything; a great score, fun choreography, lively singing and characters with a a few love stories and a classic whodunnit!

The set opened in vintage Broadway style with a stage made grand and the swirling spots lights hitting the closed curtains as the music built suspense with a comically long introduction before opening and the show – a finale of another show! Confused yet? I was already excited at the vintage feel, the comedy was there for me before the curtains even fully opened, with the music reminding me a of classic Muppet Show.

This comedy is based around another show which is being premiered before hoping to hit Broadway. The show is a flop, the lead can not sing, flunks her lines and eventually turns up dead! We see her take her final bow and bouquet before waking back stage and collapsing dead. With feined horror, the cast all become suspects as  Lieutenant Frank Cioffi enters the theatre and locks it down while he investigates the murder.

Jason Manford is superb as the lovable Lieutenant, with a Columbo rather than Poiret approach to his investigations, he is constantly sidetracked from his investigations by his desire to make the show a success. His ideas of how to improve the lyrics and dances, his growing love for the character Niki (played with true innocence by Leah Barbara West) and his personal desire to be on the stage, often see the comedic switch into art critic and show director! As his caseload goes up to three murder victims, the Lieutenant becomes more protective over his love interest and we are given a few snippets of his own performing desires, with a dreamy dance sequence and love story duet.

CURTAINS. Jason Manford ‘Frank Cioffi’ and Company
Photo Richard Davenport
©The Other Richard

As the musical progresses we are introduced to the relationships between the different characters and why they are what they are. Rebecca Lock gets my shout out as the formidable Carmen Bernstein, the long suffering wife of the money man Sidney Bernstein – philanderer, bully, man with the money. She is hard faced, business focussed (which gives us the fabulous “It’s a Business”) and determined. Our intrepid Lieutenant finally shows her true colours but I won;t ruin the twists and turns which are subtly played in this classic whodunnit!

Georgia Hendricks is played by the stunning Carley Stenson, whose vocals are simply crystal. As Georgia takes the lead after the first murder, her estranged husband Aaron Fox (played by Ore Oduba) is the hard worked composer and lyricist. Stenson’s range sent her from classic pitches to gutturals bar sounds! But the vocalist we HAVE to shout out is undeniably Leah Barbara West who plays the innocent Niki Harris. Her range is phenomenal! She wouldn’t be out of place in a great opera and I look forward to hearing her in future.

The score for this show is typical of the collaboration of the creators of this show and Cabaret. The songs had me bopping in my seat and the finale is still in my head now. If you want a bit of a giggle, a few songs to bop to, a happy ever after and a bit of a whodunnit, this is the show for you! Get out there and throw off the winter blues with this fabulous show!

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £11 (booking fees may apply).

Curtains is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton from 25-29 February 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit or call the box office on 01604 624811.

Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811

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