FROM the duo that brought you legendary musicals Cabaret and Chicago, comes the lesser-known Curtains.

The latter was the last big musical created by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the talented duo that also brought us Kiss of the Spider Woman. In contrast to their other offerings which were considered dark comedies, Curtains is an uninhibited comic romp.

This production by the Criterion Theatre has been superbly developed into a hilarious and delightful musical by the theatre's own dream team, director Anne Newbold and musical director Fran McHugh.

Curtains is a send-up of backstage murder mystery plots, set in 1959 Boston, Massachusetts, and follows the fallout when Jessica Cranshaw (played by Mareia Cowper) the supremely untalented star of Robbin' Hood of the Old West is murdered during her opening night curtain call. It is up to Lt. Frank Cioffi, played by Grafton favourite Dan Fahey, a police detective who moonlights as a musical theatre fan, to save the show, solve the case, and maybe even find love before the show reopens - all hopefully without getting himself killed in the process. Cioffi also dreams of being in musical theatre himself.

The entire company comes under suspicion, and believing that the perpetrator is still in the building, Cioffi sequesters it. The suspects include the hard-bitten lady producer, Carmen Bernstein (Jeanie Miller), her husband Sidney (Russell Jones), as well as the show's flamboyant director Christopher Belling, played deftly by Marty Wells.

Also under the microscope of suspicion is the divorced songwriting team Georgia (Melissa Christie) and Aaron (Charles Chegwidden). Or should we be suspecting the stage manager (Jim Woodley) or leading man Bobby Pepper (Wesley Chegwidden), ingénue Niki Harris (Karla Hubbard) or possibly the ambitious Bambi Bernet (Amber Collins).

Three pressing questions remain. Will the killer be caught before the entire cast is eliminated? Will the show go on? Has The Daily Examiner's Bill North been typecast as the reporter and theatre critic from The Boston Globe?

Audiences are guaranteed to enjoy the music and laughs in this glorious mix of love and intrigue, with enough murders to challenge Midsomer.

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