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Jason Manford brings musical whodunit Curtains to Dartford stage

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 November 2019

Jason Manford stars in Curtains at the Orchard Theatre. Picture: Richard Davenport/The Other Richard

Jason Manford stars in Curtains at the Orchard Theatre. Picture: Richard Davenport/The Other Richard

The Other Richard

Everyone loves a whodunit, and one with songs and a leading television star in the top roll is impossible to ignore.

Jason Manford as Lt Frank Cioffi. Picture: Richard Davenport/The Other RichardJason Manford as Lt Frank Cioffi. Picture: Richard Davenport/The Other Richard

The cleverly named Curtains is arriving in at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford.

It was written by John Kander and Fred Ebb, who were behind Chicago and Cabaret.

This particularly unusual crime thriller musical set in a theatre, so once someone dies you know it is curtains for them.

It stars television's Jason Manford, the stand-up comedian and presenter.

Jason Manford as Lt Frank Cioffi. Picture: Richard Davenport/The Other RichardJason Manford as Lt Frank Cioffi. Picture: Richard Davenport/The Other Richard

He plays detective Frank Cioffi who is already well into theatres and now has to solve a murder in one.

Jason already has plenty of theatre credits to his name including playing Caractacus Potts in the UK Tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Leo Bloom in the UK Tour of the gloriously silly and particularly risqué The Producers in 2015.

Almost as bizarre, Curtains has already done well, winning a Tony Award.

Jason said thanks to the writers, audiences "will already know there's some brilliant big old classic Broadway tunes in there.

Jason Manford stars in Curtains at the Orchard Theatre. Picture: Richard Davenport/The Other RichardJason Manford stars in Curtains at the Orchard Theatre. Picture: Richard Davenport/The Other Richard

"I think the thing that drew me to Lieutenant Frank was that he loves the theatre and now suddenly he is investigating a murder at a theatre with a professional cast of show people. So, he is really excited to be there, but also has a job to do."

The show, suitable for those aged 12 and up, tells the story of Jessica Cranshaw, star of the new Broadway-bound musical Robbin Hood, who has been murdered on stage on opening night.

The entire cast and crew are suspects, so it's curtains up for local detective, Frank Cioffi, who just happens to be a huge musical theatre fan.

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With a nose for crime and an ear for music, Frank has his work cut out trying to find the killer whilst giving the show a lifeline.

Jason said: "I think everybody loves a whodunit whether it's Columbo or Murder She Wrote, The musical has got a taste of that. I feel I am channelling a bit of Columbo."

Probably thanks to the grubby trenchcoat.

The actor went on: "I think sometimes at interval you can be a bit like OK let's get a drink, but this show I think will be very much like - right, what do you think? It's a lot of fun and a great night out."

Jason's London theatrical credits include playing Pirelli in Sweeney Todd at The Adelphi Theatre, and Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls at the Royal Albert Hall. In 2017 he released his debut album, A Different Stage, which reached Top 10 in the UK Charts. He has toured internationally as a stand-up comedian, and is a popular face on UK television having appeared on programmes including Live At The Apollo, Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, QI, Big Fat Quiz of the Year, and 8 Out of 10 Cats.

He was also nominated for Best Actor at the Royal Television Society Awards for his role as Marty in the BBC One drama Ordinary Lies.

Curtains was originally produced on Broadway by Roger Berlin, Roger Horchow, Daryl Roth, Jane Bergere, Ted Hartley and Center Theatre Group.

There is a tinge of real life tragedy to the production which came from a book by Rupert Holmes and concept by Peter Stone.

Both Stone and Ebb died before the musical was complete. It premiered in 2006 in Los Angeles and opened on Broadway the following year.

Choreography is by Alistair David, the musical supervision and arrangements are by Sarah Travis, set design from David Woodhead, costume by Gabriella Slade, lighting by Tim Mitchell, and sound is from Tom Marshall.

The high spirits of the novel musical crime thriller is at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford, between November 25 and 30 with shows at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

Fans can book online at orchardtheatre.co.uk or call box office on 01322 220000

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