A murder mystery. A hardened detective. A musical. A broadway cast. A modern fairy tale.
“Curtains,” the Arvada Center’s summer musical, has a bit of everything for everybody.
The show — with music and lyrics from John Kander and Fed Ebb (“Cabaret” and “Chicago”) — will play at the center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., until July 28. Performances will be Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday at 1 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.
“There’s all these great different genres in the show — westerns, '60s musicals, romances — that we get to bring out,” said director Gavin Mayer. “It gives a really interesting perspective on all these different genres.”
The story of “Curtains” takes place in 1959 at an old colonial theater in Boston, where it’s opening night for the broadway-bound cast of “Robin’ Hood of the Old West.”
Unfortunately the star of the show has been murdered, and it’s up to Lieutenant Frank Cioffi to suss out the perpetrator of the crime.
Cioffi — who himself is a fan of the theater — has no shortage of suspects from the company — there’s the sharp-tongued producer, a recently divorced songwriting team, a pompous British director, or the sweet understudy.
While Mayer said the “whodunnit” aspect of the play is the story’s driving force, there’s a lot of fun to be had in looking at its different elements.
He said he wanted the “Robin Hood” show within the show to feel real, and so he and the creative team at the center researched how musicals were produced in the late '50s and early '60s.
“The goal for us was to create to real shows in one — ‘Curtains’ and ‘Robin Hood,’” Mayer said. “We want people to get just as lost in the plot of ‘Robin Hood’ as anything else.”
“Curtains” is a sort of homecoming for one of the stars, Erica Sweany, who plays Niki Harris, the understudy of the dead actress.
Sweany is an Arvada native, who went to Pomona High School, where Mayer was her drama teacher. She currently lives and works in New York City, but she’s back home for the summer while staring in “Curtains.”
“My agent got me any audition, and I was so excited when I heard that Gavin was the director of the show,” she said. “It’s great to be back here in Colorado — it’s really easy and comfortable place to be.”
She also said she remembers seeing productions at the Arvada Center and going to summer theater camps that the center hosted as well, so it’s been a thrill to be back.
Sweany said she has had a great time getting lost in all the different genres in the play, and while it might not be a particularly well-known work, it’s a kind of hidden gem.
“The play really works well here — it’s charming, funny and has a lot of heart,” she said.
“There is a lot to see, and a lot to fall in love with.”