STAGE-M’s summer musical set to debut Thursday

BIG RAPIDS — Dancing? Check. Music? Check. Murder? Check.

While death is no laughing matter, “Curtains,” the summer theatrical production from STAGE-M, weaves the three together in the story of a theatrical production plagued by mishaps. The show opens Thursday at Big Rapids High School.

The play, which opened on Broadway in 2007, was nominated for several Tony Awards and David Hyde Pierce won a Tony for best performance by a lead actor for his part as Lt. Frank Cioffi.

The plot follows the characters of the fictional play “Robbin Hood,” which is similar to “Robin Hood,” but set in the American West as opposed to Sherwood Forest. On opening night, the leading actress, Jessica Crenshaw, played by Courtney Piercey, collapses as the closing number ends and later dies.

After it is revealed that her death was intentional, Cioffi is assigned to the case and promptly orders that the theater be sealed as he announces that the entire cast and crew are suspects in Crenshaw’s death. However, Cioffi, a self-confessed fan of the theatre, begs the cast to continue to improve the play, which received less than favorable reviews from the local press.

Among the characters tasked with getting “Robbin Hood” back on track is songwriter Aaron Fox, whose former songwriter partner and lover, Georgia Hendricks, is chosen to take over for the deceased Crenshaw.

The role of Fox is played by Andy Kirby, who is making his return to the stage after 14 years.

“I’ve been missing it for quite some time,” Kirby said. “(And I) started realizing recently that you can take the person out of the theatre, but you can’t take the theatre out of the person.”

He said it was the involvement of his own children in the STAGE-M production of “The King and I” last year that caused him to start planning his comeback.

“It was the first show I’d seen in a while and that got the wheels turning,” Kirby said.

The lead male actor of the show within the show is Bobby Pepper, played by Big Rapids native Trevor Straub, who returned from school in Los Angeles to be a part of “Curtains.”

“It’s just family,” he said. “It’s coming back home to people I love to be around and the atmosphere of being in my home town.”

Straub, who is studying to be a professional actor, submitted his audition by videotape because he was still in school when auditions took place in Big Rapids.

“(Pepper) is an interesting character,” Straub said. “He gets to play the lead in Robbin Hood, but he also has an important part in the plot of the Curtains.”

The show opens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Big Rapids High School and runs through Sunday. The play will start at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at Great Lakes Book and Supply, Old Pioneer/Emporium and Patterson’s Flowers or by calling (231) 592-TIXX (8499) in advance. They can also be purchased at the door.

To show appreciation for local emergency responders, 200 tickets have been set aside for responders. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Big Rapids Public Safety Building for the Thursday and Sunday shows.

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