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Barton Performing Arts presents a musical whodunnit

The musical comedy ‘whodunnit’ parody “Curtains” is set to premiere at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 9, at the Barton Community College Fine Arts Auditorium. The community will have two more chances to catch the show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
The show boasts music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, who wrote music for the highly acclaimed shows “Cabaret” and “Chicago.” The musical is set during 1959 in Boston, Mass., at a theater where police detective Frank Cioffi attends the opening night of a musical. During the curtain call, the star of the show, Jessica Cranshaw, is murdered. It is up to Cioffi to solve the case and save the show.
The cast has been hard at work rehearsing, singing and dancing and are ready to show off their mastery of the complex and fast paced performance.
“We have 120 costumes and 30 people,” Theatre Director Rick Abel said. “This is the type of show people will go to the theater to see. We have fantastic dancing, singing, costumes and scenery.”
The cast members come from all walks of life and from three disciplines at the college, as the performance is a collaboration between the Music, Theatre and Dance departments.
Comments from cast members reveal the secret behind their ability to orchestrate so many moving parts.
“My favorite part about the show is the cast,” said Barton Theatre alumnus David Burdett, who plays the lead role of Detective Cioffi. “You just have this wide group of people with this wide range of personalities, yet we all get along with each other. That’s something special you see in theater. You don’t have these divas, well maybe I’m the diva, and you can just talk with everybody without feeling superior or inferior to anybody.”
Burdett earned his associate in art in theater from Barton in 2012 and a bachelor of science in theater from Kansas State University in 2015.
“The thing I love most about theater is becoming someone else; the idea of putting on an extra layer of skin and portraying a character who I can bring to life,” Burdett said. “When I become that person — you hear about how people get those butterflies right before performances — I never feel those butterflies. I get into character so much that I just become that character.”
Madison Jones, a senior at Great Bend High School who has already committed to study theater at Barton in the fall, will portray Bambi Bernet. She echoed Burdett’s sentiment toward their castmates.
“I love how we all get along,” she said. “I also love all the dancing and singing and action.” After Barton, Jones hopes to transfer to Kansas State University or the University of Kansas and pursue a degree in theater education.
Abel said he is glad to see his students and community members working together so well toward the common goal of putting on a stellar show.
“You don’t stay new too long,” he said. “We’ve got community members and graduates, people new to the college, high school students and people who have never been on the stage before. It’s wonderful. And there’s no drama going on — other than on the stage.”