Tag Archives: “Curtains

Costumes And “Curtains”

There are many reasons to see Staples Players’ production of “Curtains” tomorrow or Saturday.

There’s the usual, of course:  Great acting, fantastic music, compelling choreography, Broadway-caliber sets.

And one that’s little-mentioned, but key to any show:  costumes.

The cast is big:  around 60.

But the costumes are even bigger.  Director David Roth estimates there are 400 different costumes in the black comedy/murder mystery/show-within-a-show.

“It’s the biggest costume show we’ve ever done,” he says — and that’s saying something.

Carmen Bernstein (played by Eva Hendricks) sings "It's a Business" -- and so is costuming the cast of "Curtains." (Photo by Kerry Long)

Though seldom noticed, costumes are vital to a show.  “Performing is about taking an audience to a completely different world,” Roth says.  “Costumes do that.”

It’s not just audiences though.  Roth sees a major transformation when actors finally put costumes on.

“They walk and move differently,” the veteran director explains.  “They even think differently, based on what they’re wearing.”

Priscilla Stampa and Marjorie Watt adjust Michelle Pauker's headpiece. (Photo by Kerry Long)

For the past several years, Players has been blessed to have had 2 superb costume designers.  Marjorie Watt and Priscilla Stampa — parents of former Players — spend countless hours most of their lives helping students create costumes for each show.

“Create costumes” does not do the process justice.  They find impossible-to-procure items.  They sew, alter, trim.  They accessorize, adding scarves, hats, ties and wigs.  They even make sure married characters wear wedding rings.

“Unless it’s a really splashy show like ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ audiences are not always aware of costumes,” Roth notes.

“And audiences definitely don’t appreciate the incredible amount of work that goes into making costumes.”

When you see “Curtains” this weekend, enjoy the acting.  Applaud the musicians and dancers.  Gawk at the set.  See if you can figure out who killed Jessica Cranshaw.

But don’t forget the costumes.  The designers, costume mistress Kathryn Durkin and her crew will not take a bow.

But “Curtains” would never open without them.

(“Curtains” concludes its run this Friday and Saturday [Nov. 19 and 20] at 7:30 p.m.  For ticket information, click here.  Tickets will also be sold this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Staples’ main entrance, from 12:30-2 p.m.  For more details, call 203-341-1310.)

The cast sings "Thataway" -- in one of their many costume changes. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Pina Coladas And Staples

Say “Pina Colada” to people of a certain age, and they instantly think:  Rupert Holmes.

Actually — thanks to movies like “Shrek,” “Bewitched” and “Grown Ups” — a new generation of young people also knows the iconic 1979-80 song about a bored relationship, personal ads, “a bar called O’Malley’s” and “the dunes of the Cape.”

Rupert Holmes has called “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” the success that ruined his career.  It took attention away from his more serious musical work.  He’s the 1st person in Broadway history to singly win Tony Awards for Best Book, Best Music and Best Lyrics (“Mystery of Edwin Drood”).

There are supposedly only 4 “whodunit musicals” — and he’s responsible for half of them.  Besides “Drood,” he wrote the book and lyrics for “Curtains.”

The other day Holmes described his multi-faceted career to a fascinated group of Staples Players.  This was not just a visit from a famous Broadway figure:  The award-winning troupe is presenting “Curtains” as their fall production.

Rupert Holmes addresses Staples Players. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Gina Rattan — a 2004 grad who worked with Holmes as assistant director on “The First Wives Club” — arranged his Staples visit.

He talked about his career in general, and his experience with “Curtains.”  (He rewrote the book after the original writer died; when Fred Ebb also passed away, Holmes contributed additional lyrics as well.)

Holmes weaved plot and character development in “Curtains” with his own love of musical theater.  “Curtains” epitomizes that love:  the main detective is infatuated with musical theater.

It is, Holmes told Players, “the only art form that cannot be digitized.”  Musical theater, he said, must be performed in front of a live audience.

Rupert Holmes hopes to see a live performance of “Curtains” in Westport.

Sounds like a great escape.

(“Curtains” will be performed Nov. 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 14 at 2 p.m.  Click here for ticket information.)