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Year in Review: A fun-filled murder mystery musical whodunit

ELEANOR P. LABROZZI PHOTO   The cast of 'Curtains.'
ELEANOR P. LABROZZI PHOTO The cast of ‘Curtains.’

Island fans of musical theater thoroughly enjoyed the performances by the young thespians of the Shelter Island School Drama Club who returned this year with another ambitious production to brighten the spirit.

“Curtains,” a musical with book by Rupert Holmes (of “Piña Colada” song fame), lyrics by Fred Ebb and music by John Kander, brought much of the same energy and antics to the stage that audiences loved in the school’s 2016 show, “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

“Curtains” revolves around a 1950s theater company attempting to put on a western-style cowboy show inspired by the tales of Robin Hood. Like “The Drowsy Chaperone,” it featured a show-within-a-show, but unlike that play, “Curtains” had murderous streak.

“The murders that are happening are done in a light, comical way, and it gives the play a plot-line people can hang onto and follow,” said director John Kaasik in an interview last March. “I’ve seen comedy thrillers, and I’ve written one. A musical comedy thriller is a little more rare — there’s not too many of these.

“You’ll recognize the quirky style and see my fingerprints on it.”

The play had a lot of characters — including 12 supporting roles — which is useful when there are 37 kids on stage and another 15 or so helping out behind the scenes as was the case in this production. Mr. Kaasik relied on younger cast members this time around — particularly the 8th grade boys who did much of the heavy lifting with their dancing skills.

“It took just three months to whip these guys into shape,” Mr. Kaasik said. “I think the kids are having more fun than ever. These boys could be my very near future stars.

They’ve grown by quantum leaps this year, next year they’ll be ready to go.”
Artist Peter Waldner, who lends his time to painting sets for the school musicals, decided to make a film about “Curtains.”

He documented the process from auditions to final bows on opening night — and everything in between, shooting 120 hours of footage which he turned over to his longtime friend Bob Volpe, who edited it down to an hour.