Back in 2006, the new Kander & Ebb musical Curtains had its premiere tryout in Los Angeles. What made this noteworthy is that Fried Ebb had recently passed away. Much of Ebb's work remained, but Rupert Holmes came in and reworked the book and added some new lyrics, and even composer John Kander wrote some lyrics. (At the time, it was considered to be the last Kander and Ebb musical, though other of their works-in-progress have continued to swirl, one of them thus far making it to Broadway, The Scottsboro Boys.)
Overall Curtains was quite enjoyable. Nothing deeply substantive, but a fun evening of theater, basically a light-hearted murder mystery during the out-of-town tryout of a musical. What especially made the evening, though, was David Hyde Pierce, who starred as a Boston detective investigating the death, but who is SO starstruck and jealous of all the people involved with the show. He was a hoot, in a tough rough, being so abnormally naive in a serious job under serious circumstances, without coming across like a loon. I told everyone I knew to see the show, not just for its historic reasons, and pleasure, but because I felt Hyde Pierce would win the Tony Award when it got to Broadway.
The show didn't have a great run in New York, but respectable enough of 511 performances. And David Hyde Pierce did indeed win the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical.
In 2012, the Broadway Cares Gypsy of the Year show did a tribute to Fred Ebb. And as part of that, they reunited the cast of Curtains. The song, "Show People," doesn't begin until around the 3:30 mark, but it's worth watching for some wonderful discussion by David Hyde Pierce and Debra Monk about Fred Ebb's huge generosity. And what's a treat, as well, is that rather than just sing along, Hyde Pierce actually goes back into character as the shy Boston "cawp."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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