Come and see music, romance, mystery, and intrigue at the Liberty Tower Theater
Lyrics like “lunch counter mornings and coffee shop nights” carried the audience into a play within a play. “Curtains,” directed by Chris Nelson, is a murder mystery set in 1959. When the lead theater performer, Jessica Cranshaw, dies suddenly on stage at the end of her act, Lt. Frank Cioffi, a detective, quarantines the entire cast and crew to probe into the murder case. The race to find the killer before more actors are harmed is a veritable whirlwind of suspense, with elements of comedy, romance and jazzy songs, accompanied by snappy dance moves.
Lt. Cioffi’s dramatic entrance during the cast’s final ode to Jessica Cranshaw causes quite a stir, especially when he announces that everyone must remain in the theater until the case is closed. He insists that the show must go on as usual while he solves the murder mystery. Following the trail of clues, he investigates each actor, questions each motive and even forms an unlikely friendship with one of the actresses.
From start to finish, “Curtains” enthralls the audience. The jazzy overture played during the opening scene and the musical scores scattered throughout the performance tempt viewers to dance along with the cast. Because the set gives the audience the impression they are backstage with the performers, it feels as though spectators have their own role to play in the show.
Aaron Hall, a senior musical theater major, plays the part of Frank Cioffi. Although his typical role has been that of the young, suave romantic dancer in the past, he stepped out of his comfort zone and took on the role of a 40-year-old detective who has no ability to dance. However, Cioffi’s passion for theater and his pursuit of truth helped Hall connect with him.
“I think a theme within his character that I’ve really loved playing is how he seeks for truth,” Hall said. “And that’s kind of a universal theme that I think all people … are seeking for truth in some capacity.”
Hall’s co-star, senior musical theater major Lindsey Sommons, described her character, Niki Harris, as an “ingénue type of character.” Together, they fight crime, crack jokes and discover there may be more to life than just their jobs.
One of the most engaging parts of “Curtains” is the dance numbers. The entire cast danced together in several scenes, and although the stage was certainly full, the choreography flowed seamlessly — the dances were interesting without being overwhelming. Junior nursing major Caroline Wando attended the production and said the dances added an element of fun.
“It’s exciting because there’s a lot going on. There’s a lot of moving parts, but it’s all connected,” Wando said.
The “Curtains” cast have worked hard to create an unforgettable show, and they hope to fill all 640 seats in the Tower auditorium with theater lovers, eager to escape the present for two and a half hours and be whisked away to a comedic murder mystery in the 1950s.
“It’s a murder mystery right around Halloween, so the timing is really fun … and you’re going to see a bunch of students having the time of their lives on stage, and hopefully, our joy will bring the audience joy,” Sommons said.
Showtimes run from Oct. 21-23. For more information or to purchase a ticket to “Curtains,” visit the Liberty theatre tickets website.
Greene is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion