CENTERVILLE — There are musicals, there are murder mysteries and there are comedies, and it's not often that all three elements come neatly together. But CenterPoint Legacy Theatre is staging an attempt with its upcoming production of "Curtains," set to run April 18-May 14.
The story features a show within a show. "Curtains" is set in 1959 and follows a group of people who are trying to put on a show called "Robbin Hood," only to discover their leading lady has been murdered. When a detective arrives to solve the mystery, the actors are forced to stay at the theater and wait for events to unfold.
"We're all stuck there while he's trying to solve the case, and in the meantime, more characters die, and we're all trying to figure out who did it,” said Natalie Peterson, who plays the role of Niki Harris, who is the understudy to the murdered actress and the detective's love interest.
She described Niki as “the sweet ingenue character who all the evidence points to her, but she's just so sweet you couldn't imagine she would be the one.”
Dave Marsden plays the role of the detective, Lt. Frank Cioffi.
"My approach is pretty simple," Marsden said. "Just watching all those detective movies from the '50s, I'm just pulling out all of my material straight from there.”
He said he was initially worried about creating the right accent for his character, who's from Boston, and that his first attempts came out sounding a little too much like his character of Nathan Detroit from his turn in CenterPoint's "Guys and Dolls" last summer.
"But then I channeled by inner Mr. Feeny from 'Boy Meets World,'" Marsden said. "I've never watched a whole episode, but my kids watch 'Boy Meets World' all the time, and so I thought, 'That guy's from Boston, isn't he? Yeah, that's where the character's from,' so I just honed in on that Mr. Feeny accent, and it all just came out roses."
Marsden said that while "Curtains" is for everyone, it may appeal in particular to people from the older generation due to the show within the show being a western, which genre was popular in the '50s and '60s, and because of the style of the music.
"The musical numbers that are in the world of the show we're doing were all really written in the style of the great '50s and '60s Broadway musicals, your 'My Fairy Lady,' 'Music Man,' 'Carousel,' that type of stuff," Marsden said.
Director Jim Christian said "Curtains" isn't so much about sharing a moral or message as it is about having a good time.
“There really aren't many musical murder mysteries out there, and I think the combination of it being a backstage musical, so that you get that peek behind the scenes, combining that with the mystery, and the fact that it's set in the 1950s, which is just a really cool period to play with, I think it's a terrific mixture,” he said.
Content advisory: According to information from the theater, "Curtains" contains mild language and mild innuendo as well as murder and romance, and is recommended for ages 8 and up.