Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The Curtain won't fall yet
David Hyde Pierce, who won a Tony award for his role in "Curtains," has extended his stay with the show until Aug. 31. Here's what he told Playbill: "I just couldn't say goodbye yet — to this company, to this part, to this great show. Singing and dancing eight times a week may kill me, but I'll die happy."
Personally, I'm thrilled that Broadway audiences will have a chance to see this talented comic actor, who's also become a terrific song-and-dance man, through the summer. (Not to mention a very gracious gentleman. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the stage door afterward.) I loved the show and I loved his performance. I literally leaped up from the couch and cheered when he won the Tony as best actor in a musical!
"Curtains" was the first musical I saw on Broadway, so it'll always hold a very special place in my theatergoing heart. It's got humor, a murder mystery to be solved, intricately choreographed dance routines, a score that's alternately rousing and tender, and characters who are memorable, outsized personalities. It's just wonderfully entertaining from the thrilling opening notes of the overture, to a very dramatic start, to an unbelievably hilarious finish.
I also love the way that the show, the final one from the legendary songwriting team of John Kander and the late Fred Ebb, celebrates the theater. (For more on the cast of characters, check out the show's very complete Web site, which also has interviews, reviews, audio and video clips, and a great collection of e-cards suitable for any occasion).
David Hyde Pierce is funny and sweet as Boston police detective Frank Cioffi, called on to investigate the murder of an actress in a troubled Broadway-bound musical. Cioffi also happens to be a huge musical theater fan, and you can tell from the very moment he walks on stage that he's starstruck, as he tries to fix the show and solve the crime.
Having seen nine other Broadway musicals since "Curtains," I'm even more impressed by his skill in holding the show together. I had a great seat, second row in the center orchestra, and I was so close, I could see the sweat on his face. It's hard to explain, but he was a commanding presence in a way that I didn't always feel, for example, when I watched Roger Bart in "Young Frankenstein." (Of course, I was also sitting much farther away for "Young Frankensten.")
While I don't know whether anyone else in the cast will extend their stay, it's a great ensemble. I especially love Debra Monk as tough-talking producer Carmen Bernstein. Given Broadway's recent labor troubles, her big number, "It's a Business," certainly takes on new meaning. I have to admit, every time I hear on the cast CD that line about the theater being a temple, and Monk responds, "What, so it should only be open on Shabbos?" I laugh. Yes, it's silly, but her delivery is so perfect!
When I first came home, I didn't have the cast CD to listen to, and the show faded from my memory a bit. But since it came out, I've been listening repeatedly, and gaining even more appreciation for the humor and the music. I love the poignancy of "I Miss the Music," and the showstopping "Show People."
My friend Steve recommended "Curtains" to me on the strength of seeing it in Los Angeles during its pre-Broadway tryout. He gave it another rave after revisiting the show at New York's Al Hirschfeld Theatre. As he told me, "Curtains" is everything a Broadway musical should be. I can't say it any better than that.