“It takes a village” is the proverb about raising a child but the same holds true in producing a community theatre production. That is certainly the case with the Sterling Community Theatre Troupe’s production of the musical comedy whodunit, Curtains, which will be presented at 8 p.m. next Friday and Saturday, July 5 and 6. and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 7, in the Sterling High School Theatre.
With 24 cast members, well over 100 costumes, 18 musical numbers, a band of six and eight scene changes, Curtains is not a small show by any stretch of the imagination. “In many ways this has to be the biggest summer show we’ve done in many years,” says Dennis Dutton, director of the show. Curtains was chosen because of its catchy score and theatrical setting. “While it is a murder mystery at its heart it’s a show about putting on a show, a valentine to musicals,” he says.
The plot springs into action when the no-talent leading lady is murdered on opening night. The company of actors, stage hands, producers and writers are all suspects in the case. The police detective assigned to the case happens to be an amateur actor himself and spends as much time trying to help the problems within the show as he does investigating the murder.
The Sterling cast is a mixture of high school, college and community members. All ages are literally involved. “It’s great to have a PhD in music working alongside high school and college students, as well as to have someone with a Master’s degree in scenic design both performing in the show as well as designing sets.” Over 50 people are involved.
Some of the cast and crew involved are veterans of theatre and doing the summer show in Sterling, while others, like Sterling College music professor Dr. Laura Bateman are first-timers. “I thought this would be a fun show to do and a great way to get involved. I love the sense of community that has been created within the cast,” she explains.
Veteran performer Sterling College sophomore Taylor Fair says, “It’s a blast to put together a musical with so many different people from Sterling.” Both Bateman and Fair believe their biggest challenge in doing Curtains has been the choreography. “There are five production numbers with a lot of dance and movement and I’m in all of them, as are many other members of the cast. Committing detailed dances to memory plus memorizing dialogue and movement all in a short period of time is difficult but fun,” comments Fair.
Scheduling summer rehearsals for a big cast musical is the biggest challenge according to the director. The summer show is put together in about one month. Some cast members miss rehearsals due to family reunions, vacations, conferences and work schedules. “When it is all said and done I think we will have only had four rehearsals with absolutely everyone there, which means those who have to miss for whatever reason have a lot of catching up to do,” explains Dutton.
Sterling pastor and stage veteran Seth Svaty, who memorably played Latin lothario Aldolpho in last summer’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone, plays the musical-loving police detective in Curtains. “I love being on stage and the chance to become a character who doesn’t face the pressures and social pedestal of my position. There is great freedom in that.”
For some the summer show is a family affair. Sterling High School student Kaci Wilson is featured in the ensemble for Curtains while her mother, Kristi Wilson, is helping with costumes. “It’s really special and fun working on the production with Kaci. She has been my partner in sewing and brainstorming ideas.”
With a very limited budget trying to come up with 100+ costumes is also a challenge. Late 1950s gowns, western musical costumes for cowboys, saloon girls and Indians are all needed for this show. “There are so many things to consider. We have to make sure each costume is appropriate for the time period and that the costumes within the same scene or musical number all look good together. It’s been fun to buy old prom dresses then refashion them for a more 1950s style,” explains Wilson.
Everyone’s efforts for Curtains will be seen as the closing event of Sterling’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration next weekend. Tickets for Curtains are $10 for adults and $5 for students and will be available at the door before each performance.