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‘Whodunit’ weaves murder and intrigue into Hayfield’s madcap ‘Curtains’

Emily Mannon, a student at Langley High School, reviews the Hayfield Secondary School’s performance of “Curtains” as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

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Hayfield Secondary School’s Lizzy Stapula, MaryEllen Martelli, Aubrey Meeks, Catherine Braunlich, Nathan Brown, Michael Bayerle, Jessica Musman, Carter Plemmons, Ryan Colpitts, Daniel Kingsley, Dani Wagner, Rebecca Reed, Keelin Burke and Meghan Peterson. (Photo by Jean Martelli)

What’s catchier than pink-eye, a production of "No Exit” and a murder — all with the integrity of musical theater? Hayfield Secondary School’s production of “Curtains,” of course.

When the new production of “Robbin’ Hood” opens to terrible reviews, the cast is sure nothing could be worse —until their lead actress is found dead on stage. Quarantined in the theater by Lt. Frank Cioffi (Jacob Brisson) until the murderer can be caught, the cast gets to work revamping their dying show. Among the blossoming loves and rekindled romances that ensue, two more cast members are found dead. Can the lieutenant find the killer before the whole cast ends up six feet under? “Curtains” is a laugh-out loud, insanely over-the-top murder musical mystery that “follows the yellow brick road in the wrong direction ... to Kansas.”

In a show with more than 11 main roles, several actors stood out. Especially strong was Aubrey Meeks as the tough-as-nails co-producer of “Robbin Hood.” Her powerful voice filled the auditorium, and she commanded the audience’s attention whenever she stepped on stage. Some actors did not project loudly enough or spoke too fast, but Meghan Peterson, as lyricist-turned-actress Georgia Hendricks, did not have either problem. Her clear voice and strong dancing skills were showcased in numerous numbers. Michael Bayerle, as Georgia’s husband, Aaron Fox, also showed off a smooth voice.

The 16 songs in the show call for a wide variety of dancing and singing styles. While the dance numbers were not always in synch, they were splendid when they were. The huge tap number “A Tough Act to follow” was particularly well done, and Lizzy Stapula, as the misunderstood Bambi Bernet, shined in the demanding “Kansasland.” The pacing during the dances could have been quicker, but overall the ensemble had good energy, especially during the second act.

In a show known for laughs, several cast members delivered the punch lines particularly well. Carter Plemmons, as pompous yet loveable director Christopher Belling, shined. In a manner reminiscent of Jim Carrey’s Count Olaf in “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” Plemmons came up with a distinct walk and accent to perfectly capture the snobby director. Even when not speaking, he kept the audience entertained with amusing facial expressions and mannerisms. Equally comedic was Maria Cammarata as showgirl Niki Harris. Cammarata was ditzy without being overbearing and made the audience smile every time she spoke in her articulate, high-pitched voice.

While the scene changes and some dance numbers were long, overall the Hayfield High cast and crew kept the audience laughing and entertained -- always shocked by the ever-occurring gun shots (timed perfectly by sound lead Zack Kiszka) and always wondering who the murderer was. A “killer time” was certainly had by all.

By Emily Mannon, Posted by Mario Iván Oña  |  May 20, 2010; 10:48 AM ET
 | Tags: Cappies 2010  
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Next: Nominees for the 2010 Cappies Awards

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