What the Heck is “Curtains” performed by Grant MacEwan?

Julia Stanski, Editor

Who?

Grant MacEwan University runs a two-year Theatre Arts program that culminates in a musical theatre diploma, the only such program in Edmonton.  Every year, their class of second-year students puts on three main stage musicals. It’s a great opportunity to see near-professional productions of musicals for a reasonable price; student tickets cost only $15. Every year their season is different and interesting; some previous shows include The Music Man, Pacific Overtures, Sondheim on Sondheim, A Little Night Music, Spring Awakening and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Usually, two of the shows take place in the beautiful John L. Haar Theater, while the third is produced in the Theatre Lab of the same building.

Why should I watch student theatre?

An advantage to seeing MacEwan shows is familiarizing yourself with the young artists and up-and-comers of our theatre scene. MacEwan has produced incredibly talented artists like Gianna Read, Luc Tellier, Jason Hardwick and Jarrett Krissa, who are now active and working in theatre all over the city, province and country. Tell people you saw them when they were just starting out! It’s also an opportunity to trace the careers of high school performers you’ve seen, especially for those involved in Cappies. Fun fact: Cappies award winner Ben Wheelwright is currently starring on Broadway.  

What’s Curtains?

This was MacEwan’s most recent production. Running February 3-13, Curtains is a wonderful Kander and Ebb musical murder mystery set backstage at a struggling Broadway show. It has an awesome sense of humour, tons of jokes about musicals and an amazing score. Some musical highlights include ‘Thinking of Him’, a bittersweet ballad, ‘What Kind of Man’, a beautifully harmonized quartet, and ‘I Miss the Music’, a heartbreaking solo (see below). Some brilliantly choreographed numbers included ‘It’s a Business’ and  ‘Show People’, an anthem to show business.

Do I know people in it?

Maybe. Some faces you might recognize:

– Adam Houston: he earned a Cappies nomination for Best Lead Actor for his role as Billy Crocker in Scona’s 2013 production of Anything Goes. He also had a featured comedic role as Cookie the gangster in MacEwan’s first production of the year, Nice Work If You Can Get It. He’s a brilliant comedian, absolutely hilarious, but as he proved with a more serious role, he can also be touchingly earnest and endearing. He plays Lieutenant Frank Cioffi in Curtains.

– Michelle Diaz: she won the Best Comic Actress Cappie for her portrayal of Little Red Riding Hood in Victoria Comp’s 2013 production of Into the Woods. She has charming stage presence and a lovely voice, strong with beautiful vibrato. She plays Georgia Hendrix in Curtains.

-Jordan Poirier: he won the Cappie for Best Male Vocalist in 2014, for his leading role in Bellerose’s production of Beauty and the Beast. His voice is incredibly beautiful, with gorgeous tone and great expression. In Curtains, he plays Oscar Shapiro

-Gabriel Gagnon: he was nominated for Best Comic Actor in 2014, again for his role in  Bellerose’s Beauty and the Beast. He has excellent comedic timing and presence. He plays Russ Cochran in Curtains.

So?

Point being, this is an awesome show and you would definitely like it. And seeing MacEwan shows is a great way to be more involved in the Edmonton theatre and arts scene. Their next production is Heathers, running from March 30-April 9. Go see it!

Side note

Why is the song ‘I Miss the Music’ so sad, you ask? Well. In the show, a songwriter sings it, about how much he misses writing with his partner. Here’s a link (from 0.45). Listen to it.

Now: Kander and Ebb wrote 16 musicals together; they worked together for 40 years. They were the immortal partnership.  Curtains was the last show they wrote together. Fred Ebb died before they could finish it. John Kander wrote this song for him, by himself. “I miss the music, I miss my friend.”  Now listen to it again and tell me that doesn’t make you want to cry.

 

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