Sandy High opens its fall musical Friday

When Chris Harris, Sandy High’s drama director, first read “Curtains,” he thought the whodunit musical comedy would be worth saving for the new high POST PHOTO BY LISA K. ANDERSON - POST PHOTO BY LISA K. ANDERSON 'Curtains' stars seniors Peter Woodfood, the detective, and Hannah Hensley, the ingenue.

While a brand-new theater presents a host of challenges — from learning a fly system, dropping through a pit door and adjusting to the acoustics of the space — holding off on the production was well worth the wait.

“We’re at a level we’ve always been talent wise, but it’s incredible to have so many opportunities and challenges (with the new theater),” says senior Drew McLaughlin, who plays the commandeering producer Carmen Bernstein.

In the story, set in brassy and bright 1959, Boston’s Colonial Theatre is opening a new, western “Robin Hood” musical. The entire cast and crew become suspects when the leading lady, Jessica Cranshaw, mysteriously dies on stage.

Add Lt. Frank Cioffi, who loves musical theater and starts falling for the ingenue, and “Curtains” is the recipe for a captivating backstage murder-mystery.

Sandy High’s drama and music departments will open “Curtains” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at Sandy High School, 37400 Bell St.

Harris and Bruce Scarth, Sandy High’s veteran choir director, who have worked together on musicals for nearly 30 years, said they spent two weeks auditioning for the fall musical and selected “Curtains” to match this year’s talent.

“Our casts are a little younger, and we have more of a chorus than in other shows,” Scarth says. “(This play) offers them a vehicle to grow.”

“The sound is so different,” Scarth says of the new theater. “It mixes out to the audience.

“Curtains” is the combined effort of Scarth, Harris and band director Rob McGlothin. After decades of performances, the drama and music departments took their final bows in the old “cafegymatorium” last spring and traded the makeshift performance space for a theater that holds 500 people, features an orchestra pit and rivals professional New York theaters.

Longtime volunteers Denise Boitano and Loretta Murray worked on more than 200 costumes for the musical, including western, 1950s and Victorian attire; mermaids; Indians, Union cavalry; saloon girls; and flying boys.

“Curtains” was originally produced on Broadway in 2007 by the creators of “Cabaret “ and “Chicago.” The original production won two Drama Desk Awards and a Tony.

The music and lyrics were written by John Kander and Fred Ebb, and the book was written by Rupert Holmes.

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