Former Guiding Light co-stars Robert Newman and Kim Zimmer shine in the Paper Mill Playhouse's revival of this musical murder mystery.
Set in 1959 at Boston's Colonial Theatre, where the Broadway-bound musical Robbin' Hood! is having a problematic out-of-town tryout, Curtains begins with leading lady Jessica Cranshaw (Happy McPartlin) collapsing right after taking her opening night bow. It turns out that Cranshaw was murdered - and most likely by someone involved with the show. In need of an outside hero, police detective Frank Cioffi (Robert Newman) arrives on the scene to figure out both who committed the murder -- and how to turn Robbin' Hood! into a smash hit.
The numerous personalities on hard include hard-as-nails producer Carmen Bernstein (Kim Zimmer); witty British director Christopher Belling (Ed Dixon); lyricist Georgia Hendricks (Helen Anker), who is unexpectedly called upon to replace Cranshaw as leading lady; composer Aaron Fox (Kevin Kern), who was formerly married to Georgia and still harbors romantic feelings for her; Nikki Harris (Amanda Rose), a sweet understudy who would make a perfect match for lonely Cioffi; Carmen's daughter Bambi Bernet (Anne Horak), who longs for a chance to jump out of the chorus and prove her talent; athletic dancer Bobby Pepper (David Elder); and harsh drama critic Daryl Grady (Aaron Galligan-Stierle). It takes quite a while to figure whodunit.
Robert Andrew Kovach's set design realistically conveys a workmanlike backstage area that is occasionally supplemented by painted flats during the show-within-a-show sequences of the western-themed Robbin' Hood!
Newman and Zimmer -- who co-starred on the now-defunct television soap opera Guiding Light for over two decades -- are the main audience attractions here. Newman has a congenial presence and earnestly conveys Cioffi's unbending love of musical theater, particularly in the upbeat anthem "Show People"; while Zimmer, who possesses a strong belting voice, captures Carmen's loud, rough-and-tough personality, all the while looking pretty glamorous.