Epsom Light Opera Company

award winning theatre at the Epsom Playhouse

LoginClose

2017 Curtains

Curtains is a musical mystery comedy with a book by Rupert Holmes, lyrics by Fred Ebb
and music by John Kander, with additional lyrics by Kander and Holmes

at the Epsom Playhouse
Autumn 2017

Director - John Harries-Rees
Music Director - Francis Griffin
Choreographer - Helen Pennicard 

Cast List

Lieutenant Frank Cioffi: Didrik Finne
Niki Harris: Emily Evans
Georgia Hendricks: Rachel Yelland
Carmen Bernstein: Julie Parker
Aaron Fox: Stephen Chalkley
Sidney Bernstein: Chris Evans
Christopher Belling: Dilip Patel
Bambi Bernét: Hannah Wade
Daryl Grady: Rick Qureshi
Oscar Shapiro: Paul Hyde
Bobby Pepper: Dan Crego-Bustelo
Jessica Cranshaw: Charlie Hoddell
Johnny Harmon: Chris Haslett
Randy: Paul Featherstone
Harv: Max Marchesi
O'Farrell: Charlie Blencowe
Roberta: Sandra Zeffman
Sasha: Francis Griffin
Ensemble: Alex Churcher, Anthony Black, Charlie Blencowe, Ellie Wade, Jane Platts, Jill Howlett, Karen Wilson, Krystyna Szafranski, Lian Finne, Louise Laithwaite, Sandra Zeffman, Simon Ferrier

Orchestra

Reed II: Simon Briggs
Trumpet I: Mathew Rainsford
Trumpet II: Elliot Phelps
Horn: Jonathan Wood
Trombone: Merin Rhyd
Keyboard: Simon Leeson
Percussion: Nigel Shipway
Bass: Jan Kieman

Show Synopsis

Robbin' Hood of the Old West, a bad Western adaptation of the Robin Hood story is reaching its conclusion. The shockingly untalented leading lady, Jessica Cranshaw is a triple threat: she can't sing, act, or dance (or remember when to say her lines). To the relief of everyone, she is murdered during her opening night curtain call. The entire company comes under suspicion, and Lt. Frank Cioffi of the Boston Police Department is called in to solve the homicide. Believing that the perpetrator is still in the building, he sequesters it.

The suspects include the hard-bitten lady producer, Carmen Bernstein; her husband, Sidney; the show's flamboyant director Christopher Belling; divorced songwriting team Aaron Fox and Georgia Hendricks; stage manager Johnny Harmon; choreographer/leading man Bobby Pepper, ingénue Niki Harris, and ambitious chorine Bambi Bernét.

The company use its spare time to attempt to fix the show's problems. Niki, Ms. Cranshaw's understudy, is passed up for the leading role in favour of Georgia, who is encouraged to take the role despite the protests of Aaron, who has fallen in love with her again. Cioffi, a theatre fan and amateur actor, becomes more involved with saving the show than solving the case. Cioffi finds himself falling for Niki, and she seems to return his affection, so he hopes she's not the murderer. Meanwhile, secrets are surfacing, the production numbers in Robbin' Hood are rewritten, rehearsed and rewritten again, and the body count is rising. Can Cioffi solve the case, save the show, and get the girl before the curtain rises without getting offed himself? This is a musical, after all!

Production Team

John-HR JOHN HARRIES-REES - DIRECTOR
John trained at the Rose Bruford College of Drama, specialising in production and direction. Teaching and lecturing in Drama and Theatre, and freelance directing, for the past 40 years, has provided many wonderful memories. The 170-plus shows that he has directed, include Applause; Hello Dolly; Into the Woods; La Cage aux Folles; West Side Story; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; Hamlet; Annie; A Midsummer Night's Dream; Guys & Dolls; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; My Fair Lady; Merrily We Roll Along; Beauty & the Beast; Hairspray; Seussical; Legally Blonde and many, many more. His love of all styles of theatre has seen him directing Opera, Old Time Music Hall, Experimental Improvisation-based Drama, in addition to all his plays and musicals. A proud father of six, John is delighted to be directing "Curtains" for ELOC, collaborating with a great creative team, and would like to pay tribute to the hard working and talented company and technical team, with whom he has been privileged to work.
Francis-Griffin

FRANCIS GRIFFIN - MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Francis Griffin studied the horn at the Royal College of Music. He started conducting shortly after leaving college and has worked with Operatic Societies and orchestras throughout the South East and has appeared in the South Bank and Barbican centres. His repertoire is varied, ranging from Classical Symphonies and Operas through to Operettas and Musicals. Performances have included Carousel, Me and My Girl, Man of La Mancha, Iolanthe, as well as Operas such as Cosi fan Tutte, Turandot and Siegfried. He is also a noted arranger, particularly of Opera, and his arrangements have been performed all over the world. He is delighted to be working with Epsom Light again, his last project with them was the highly acclaimed Mame in 2016. For more information see www.FrancisGriffin.com.

Helen

HELEN PENNICARD - CHOREOGRAPHER
Helen gained most of her dancing experience attending Laine Theatre Arts. She then went on to train at Kingston Teachers Training College and at Danceteachersinc. Helen now holds a Licentiate qualification in both Modern Theatre and Tap dance within the ISTD syllabus and has recently taken her Fellowship tap exam so that she can one day, hopefully, go on to examine. For the past 10 years, Helen has kept very busy as a dance teacher and choreographer, teaching at various schools in the Surrey area. Helen has been a member of ELOC for over 9 years and is very proud to be working alongside a great bunch of people! Theatre includes:'Chicago' (co-choreographer with Fusion Academy), 'Secret Garden' and 'Honk' (choreographer with Chipstead Players), 'Guys and Dolls' (choreographer with Danes Hill School and Dunottar school), 'Lend Me A Tenor', 'Parade', 'Pirates of Penzance', 'Anything Goes', 'How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying' (choreographer with ELOC) and 'The Snow Queen' and 'Peter Pan' (dance teacher with Centre Stage Dance & Drama) and many more! So "let the 'Curtains' part and follow that yellow brick road all the way to Kansasland." Enjoy.

Promotional Photos - By Charlotte Thompson

Photos for our promotional photo shoot are available for viewing - click here

Dress Rehearsal Photos - By Andy Carter

Photos from the Dress Rehearsal are available for viewing - click here

Review from Jon Fox, NODA Rep

EPSOM LIGHT OPERA COMPANY

"CURTAINS" Epsom Playhouse, 18th October, 2017

A musical whodunnit and play within a play is hardly an everyday production. ELOC made a brave choice in choosing a musical of this type, so little previously known to many theatre patrons. Wisely though, in the vastly experienced director John Harries-Rees, ELOC had a bank of England guarantee of a visionary and highly successful production.

The large and deep stage at Epsom Playhouse was left largely free of cumbersome stage furniture, leaving ample space for this gaily costumed show to showcase its many fine dancers, mainly female, as ever in amateur operatics. Though it must also be said that the male dancing chorus also acquitted themselves rather well. Two tall platforms on wheels were used to much good effect at various times.

The plot, briefly, concerns a theatre company's poor adaptation of Robin Hood, entitled "Robbin Hood of the Old West" and thus a western style set with cast in western cowboy outfits - when the hopelessly untalented leading lady is murdered during the opening night curtain calls. Consternation as to who murdered her immediately breaks out, despite all the cast being glad to be rid of her as the "leading lady" in Robbin Hood Lieutenant Frank Cioffi (the Curtains lead player) from Boston police Dept. takes charge of the investigation.

However, he is himself stagestruck and becomes personally enamoured both with Niki Harris, a young principal and the show itself, rather than unmasking the murder. Most of the show's principal players are under suspicion and more murders occur through the production. All ends happily, except for the murderer, Daryl Grady, a reporter who was in the theatre that night to review the show.

This was a fast paced production to relish and the many scenes ran seamlessly one to another with talented performances aplenty. Didrik Finne in the role of Lieutenant Frank Cioffi was excellent. His vulnerability to love and his passion for the stage made his character likeable and human and he used his enormous stage presence to wonderful effect (definite shades of Colombo in this role). Emily Evans as Niki gave a sterling performance opposite him too, enabling one to forget the disparity in their ages in their burgeoning love relationship.

Other special performances were given by Chris Evans as Sidney Bernstein. and Julie Parker as his stage wife and shows producer, Carmen Bernstein. Chris had a magnetic quality on stage, attracting every eye and I felt somewhat cheated when his character was hanged - which was chillingly well staged in Act 1 finale. Carmen Bernstein, was played with special world weary nuanced skill by Julie Parker - a consummate performer to her fingertips.

Stephen Chalkley showed his lovely tenor voice and acted to fine effect too as Aaron Fox, a divorced songwriter still working with his ex, Georgina Hendricks, very well portrayed by Rachel Yelland. Dilip Patel as the flamboyant show director Christopher Belling gave true individual style in an excellent performance.

Hannah Wade as pushy Bambi (Elaine) Bernét, the producer's daughter, being overlooked, distinctly caught the eye in this difficult role to play. Dan Crego-Bustelo gave much life and presence to his character, Bobby Pepper, as did the villainous reporter / journalist Daryl Grady, played with panache by Rick Qureshi. I really felt sorry for poor Charlie Hoddell singing and acting so "awfully" well as Jessica Cranshaw and meeting her untimely end far too early in the play for one so talented. "Cringemakingly delightful" I wrote in my notes.

Paul Hyde did really well as Oscar Shapiro, the show's worldly wise financial backer, really getting inside this hard bitten character.

Chris Haslett was the authentically fretful stage manager Johnny Harmon. Randy and Harv were played by Paul Featherstone and Max Marchesi respectively with skill. Other small roles all played effectively were given by Charlie Blencowe (O'Farrell), Sandra Zeffman (Roberta) and Francis Griffin
(Sasha).

Musical Director Francis had a solo song "The Man is Dead" sung from the orchestra pit where he also led his sterling nine piece band with assurance and polish. The written music for this show, though not of outstanding merit, was performed with emotion and even a certain panache too, in many cases. I particularly liked the following: "Thinking of Him", "Show People", "I Miss The Music", It's a Business", "Thinking of Missing The Music" and "In the Same Boat".

Choreographer Helen Pennicard 's dance routines were well rehearsed, slick and of good standard.

Authentic western costumes and the colourful shirts worn by the dancers really caught the eye. Costumes were of high standard, though I have a gripe, in that many of the men's trousers were notably too long, except in the fine cowboy scenes, where they were fine. Elizabeth Callow was co-ordinator and supplier, assisted by Lucy vVnables.

What particularly impressed me was how professional a feel the show had, with a real pace and reality to most of the characters, especially considering the tangled plot. Director John Harries-Rees had his artistic strings all across the show like a true puppet master, beautifully untangling the complicated plot. With great use of atmosphere, lighting and sound by Simon Banks, assisted by his LX team and Stuart Vaughan on sound assisted by Jacky Cook, the sinister murders were given the utmost effect on the cast and - as I can certainly vouch - the audience as well. His players, not least the assured ensemble work, did him proud and what they all created was a show of which they will justifiably feel proud.

Jon Fox

NODA District 19 

"Great fun, well done ELOC." "Not seen this show before, glad I did!" "Another professional performance."


We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can switch them off if you prefer. However, by continuing to use the site without changing settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

  I accept cookies from this site.
EU Cookie Directive Module Information