How frustrating: ‘Curtains’ is closing on Broadway

Curtains Broadway poster

I’m going to New York in August with a plan to see a few musicals. Hopefully this will go some way to making up for the fact that the majority of West End musicals shows right now seem to be long-runners or jukebox shows (see interesting in The Times here)

One of the shows at the top of my list is Curtains, the last show written by long-time collaborators John Kander and Fred Ebb before the latter’s death in 2004. Great news too – less than 2 weeks ago, the lead actors (most notably David Hyde Pierce, Debra Monk and Karen Ziemba) signed up for a further 6 months (see announcement here)

Strangely, barely a week after announcing the extension, Curtains had just posted its closing notices (see announcement here, and will now finish on June 29th (more than a month before I arrive in New York!). It’s unclear exactly what changed in March, but it’s frustrating for me all the same.

I’m hoping that someone decides to produce the show in London sometime soon, and the continued popularity of Chicago and Cabaret, Kander & Ebb’s most famous shows, gives me some hope. But if you’re going to be in New York in the next 3 months, go and see the show while you can.   

The show’s official website has plenty of information about the show, including video clips, but if you’re wondering what it’s about, take a look at’s description here.

In the meantime, those of us in the UK will have to console ourselves with the official cast recording CD. Good news here at least – it’s easily available and you can buy it from here from amazon (in case you’re wondering, I’m not on commission!). Kander & Ebb fans will see parallels in their previous work – I think it’s more like Steel Pier and The Rink, than Chicago or Cabaret, but then I love all 4 shows. My particular highlights are as follows:

  • ‘What Kind of Man?’ – a delightful ‘tribute’ to theatre reviewers; reminds me musically of ‘The Grass is Always Greener’, a little known classic from Woman of the Year
  • ‘I Miss the Music’ – beautiful melody – think male partner to ‘We Can Make It’ from The Rink  
  • ‘In the Same Boat Completed’ – clever set-piece number with 3 different songs put together

I find the show gets better once you have listened to it a few times. It’s not as instantly catchy as something like Chicago, but give it a chance – it’s great and will grow on you.

Finally, if you’re reading this article and aren’t familiar with The Rink or Steel Pier, go and check those shows out first. Most excitingly, The Rink is due to be coming to London in 2009, directed by John Doyle (see my previous post here for more information). For my top 5 Kander & Ebb shows, take a look here.

And remember, if you are going to New York in the next 3 months, get yourself a ticket for Curtains before it shuts, and let me know what you think – I’ll be jealous!


4 Responses to “How frustrating: ‘Curtains’ is closing on Broadway”

  1. 1 Esther April 6, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I was lucky to see Curtains last April. It was my first time seeing a musical on Broadway and I loved it. The cast is superb. David Hyde Pierce and Debra Monk were especially wonderful. They have such great comic timing. And they were all so gracious when I met them afterward at the stage door. The cast recording actually gives you a pretty good feel for the show. I’m sorry you won’t get a chance to see it, but I’m sure there’ll be a national tour in the U.S. within a year. If you’re planning a trip here at the time, it would be well worth taking in. There should be stops in all the major cities – like Boston, Washington. In fact, since it’s set in Boston, it would be very cool to see it there!

  2. 2 Jon Rosen June 16, 2008 at 4:31 pm


    I always respect other people’s opinions on shows, but I have to say that I was not impressed with Curtains at all. I saw it early in the run (April 2007) but I was very disappointed in the show itself. It didn’t have any of the sincerity or meaning that many of K&E’s shows have had. It was, from my perspective, pretty much a “throwback” musical (to the 30s/40s/early 50s) but not done anywhere nearly as well as the classics of those periods. I think that occurred because of the fact that Ebb passed away during the creation of the show and from what Ihave heard, Kander kind of left it up to the rest of the team (which was a consortium of people) to put together a book around their music.

    The worst thing that I think was done was turning what I considered one of the most beautiful numbers in the show (Tough Act To Follow) into a veritable Busby Berkeley dance routine which stripped what could have been a most tender ballad of all of its meaning. I also thought that song should have been performed by Karen Ziemba who would have knocked it out of the park, instead of Pierce and his coquettish costar.


    I still think the true “lost” musical in K&E’s rep is Steel Pier. I am trying to mount a production of it again, this time in North Carolina. My company had planned to do the West Coast premiere in 2003, but our theater was closed by the fire marshalls for violations just 3 weeks before we were scheduled to open and we had to shut the entire production down. I am still dying to produce/direct this marvelous show that has rarely been seen.

  3. 3 Jon June 16, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Jon – I agree with you about Steel Pier. It’s a fantastic show musically, and I’d love to see a premiere in the UK.

    On the plus side, it looks like we’re going to be getting ‘The Rink’ in London next year, directed by John Doyle, which is another K&E show that deserves more coverage!

  1. 1 Song choices in I’d Do Anything - what musicals do they come from? « Coloured Lights Trackback on April 17, 2008 at 6:38 am

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