Curtains is a murder-mystery stage musical.
- David Hyde Pierce - Lieutenant Frank Cioffi
- Debra Monk - Carmen Bernstein
- Karen Ziemba - Georgia Hendricks
- Jason Danieley - Aaron Fox
- Jill Paice - Niki Harris
- Edward Hibbert - Christopher Belling
- Noah Racey - Bobby Pepper
- Megan Sikora - Bambi Bernét
- Michael McCormick - Oscar Shapiro
- Patty Goble - Jessica Cranshaw/Connie Subbotin
- Matt Farnsworth - Harv Fremont
- Jim Newman - Randy Dexter
- David Loud - Sasha Iljinsky
It is 1959 at the Colonial Theatre in Boston, where a new musical called "Robbin' Hood!", a western version of Robin Hood, is reaching its conclusion. Madame Marian, played by faded film star diva Jessica Cranshaw, looks on as Robin Hood wins the sharp-shooting contest and proposes to Miss Nancy, the schoolmarm. The cast then sings the finale of the show, during which it is clear that Jessica can neither sing, dance, nor act. She takes her bow and, after receiving two bouquets, collapses behind the curtain.
Later that night, Carmen Bernstein, a hard-bitten lady co-producer, divorced songwriting team Aaron Fox and Georgia Hendricks, and the show's financial backer, Oscar Shapiro, read the reviews, most of which are terrible, especially the Boston Globe's, which is the review they needed; the only good review comes from the Cambridge Patriot. No one believes that anyone would be heartless enough to become a critic. The show's flamboyant British director, Christopher Belling, arrives, saying that he had an epiphany after walking into a church. Just then, stage manager Johnny tells Carmen that there is a phone call for her. Carmen suspects that it's her philandering husband Sidney. Meanwhile, Georgia and Aaron get into an argument about why Georgia joined the show. Aaron claims that she only wanted to rekindle a romance with choreographer Bobby, the actor playing Rob Hood and Georgia's ex-boyfriend. Everyone is pessimistic, but Belling asks Georgia to sing Madame Marian's opening number. She does so spectacularly, and it is clear that she is thinking about her failed marriage with Aaron. Aaron begins to sing with her, but Bobby cuts him off.
Belling then announces his plan: they are going to replace Jessica. Niki, the schoolmarm and Jessica's understudy, steps forward and says she would feel terrible taking over, but Belling goes on to say that he is actually casting Georgia as Madame Marian. Bambi, the show's featured dancer, steps forward and says that Niki should get the role, but Belling sees right through her: Bambi is Niki's understudy, meaning if Niki got the lead, she'd get to play Miss Nancy. Georgia is cast, in spite of Aaron's disapproval.
Carmen then enters and tells the ensemble that it was the hospital that had called. Jessica Cranshaw is dead. The cast performs a mock funeral, and it is clear that no one is sorry to see their leading lady gone. Lt. Frank Cioffi of the Boston Police Department arrives to announce that he had seen the show and loved it (except for Cranshaw), and then reveals that Jessica Cranshaw was murdered.
Cioffi tells Belling to finish up what he was doing with the cast, who do not want to go on with the show. Carmen unsuccessfully tries to convince them that "the show must go on", and various members of the ensemble stand up to her, including Bambi, who is actually named Elaine and is Carmen's daughter. Cioffi, an amateur performer himself, enthusiastically helps her bolster the morale of the cast, and convinces them to do the show. However, since Cranshaw was poisoned in the last minutes of the show and never left the stage thereafter, Cioffi believes that she must have been murdered by a member of the company. Also believing that the perpetrator is still in the building, Cioffi sequesters it. Sidney Bernstein arrives from New York, and Cioffi begins to suspect him, although Sidney claims to have been with a certain woman whose name he refuses to give.
Cioffi is left alone with the winsome Niki, who is now covering for Georgia. The lieutenant is struck by Niki's charm and confides in her about his investigation and his lonely life, as he is married to his job. She seems to return his affection, so he hopes she is not the murderer. The next day, Georgia attempts to learn to dance, but is failing miserably despite Bobby's belief in her. Cioffi arrives and soon meets Daryl Grady, the critic who wrote the terrible review for the Boston Globe, only praising the choreography and Niki's performance. Carmen and Sidney ask him to re-review the show with its new lead, and he decides that he will re-review the show, tomorrow. They reluctantly agree before Niki tries to thank Daryl for his kind words. He tells her that he doesn't associate with the artists he reviews, and, after having an argument with Cioffi about his previous review of "Robbin' Hood", leaves.
Belling works to re-stage a difficult production number, featuring Niki, Georgia and Bambi, and Cioffi suggests that the song needs to be rewritten. Cioffi is left alone with Aaron, who shows Cioffi that composing a song is difficult. After he lets it slip that he misses something, Aaron confesses that he still loves his ex-wife. Any doubt that Georgia can carry the show is removed by the dress rehearsal of the big saloon hall number. Cioffi then comes on and tells the cast that he has figured out that Sidney has been blackmailing every member of the show into working for him. While the cast is relieved that they no longer need to be blackmailed, Cioffi reminds them they're still suspects and that they should continue with the show. Tragedy soon strikes again as the curtain is rung down, as Sidney Bernstein is simultaneously rung up, with the curtain rope tied around his neck.
Sasha, the conductor, turns to the audience to reveal that the hanging was fatal. A makeshift dormitory has been set up on the stage of the still-sequestered Colonial Theatre. Each member of the company suspects the others in the middle of the night. Cioffi returns from the coroner's office, but he focuses on whether the show will be ready for its re-opening. When a death threat for Sidney is found, stating he will die unless he closes the show, Oscar reveals Sidney died for nothing as he was going to comply. He even gave Oscar back the last check he made out. Carmen takes it back, saying she is going to keep the show open. Aaron previews his new version of "In the Same Boat" featuring Bobby and two cast members Randy and Harv but Cioffi is not yet satisfied with the product and has other advice for the show's creators.
Bambi asks that a pas de deux be added for herself and Bobby. Carmen agrees, but she is no stage mother: her duty is to the box office. Grady then comes in and tells everyone that he's taking interviews from the cast in the Green Room. Bambi does well at the rehearsal of the re-staged square dance number. Just then, however, a shot rings out from offstage, and Bobby is wounded in the arm, although Cioffi soon figures out that Carmen was actually the target. Niki comes forward with the gun, and the company immediately jumps to the conclusion that she is guilty. She says that she innocently found the gun backstage and hands it over, albeit after she accidentally pulls the trigger and almost hits Cioffi.
As Cioffi works on solving the case, he tells Aaron, Georgia, and Bobby that Sidney had nothing on them and yet they were still working for very little money. Georgia then quotes a death threat which Cioffi hadn't read out loud. Cioffi is about to arrest her when Aaron attempts to takes the blame for her, reviving their romance. After Aaron leaves it is revealed that it was all an act, and that Bobby had only been pretending to be Georgia's boyfriend so that she could see if she could stir anything in them. She leaves, and Bobby confesses that he does love Georgia, and that he would do anything for her, even commit murder.
Niki laments how love makes people feel bad, but Cioffi begins flirting with her and reminisces about the first time he saw her on stage, and how he thought that he could be her perfect partner; in an elaborate fantasy sequence, he becomes just that. But he realizes that she has a secret. He had found out that cast members would use certain people to get higher reviews. He also tells Niki that some cast members were using certain people to get higher ratings, and in Sidney's book where he had coded memos for the casts' blackmails, there was an O next to her name. Stage manager Johnny knows the secret, but won't tell the detective what it is. He is shot and killed before he can reveal any more. He tears out a page from his notebook saying "Drop in planet Earth".
Cioffi takes Niki and Belling up to the theater's flyspace high above the stage. He announces that he's solved the mystery. Left alone, he is hit with a sandbag and is sent tumbling down. He narrowly escapes death by clutching onto a setpiece, which lowers him to safety. When on the ground, he exclaims that he has solved it...he knows how to best stage "In the Same Boat". Putting together all of the versions, the cast is able to sing an incredible number.
Cioffi then announces that he and Niki are engaged, and asks the cast to re-stage the bows, when Jessica was murdered, and they notice that Georgia is only being offered one bouquet, not two. Cioffi figures out that the murderer hid a pellet gun with a poison capsule inside a bouquet, disguised as an usher, and killed Jessica. Bobby suddenly comes on stage with a bloody head and collapses, and everyone realizes that the masked Rob Hood standing on stage is a fake.
Cioffi then announces that the O and the "Drop in planet earth" both represented a globe: The Boston Globe. He finally solves the case: the murderer is the critic, Daryl Grady. Grady then takes off the mask and reveals that he is in love with Niki and did not want her to move away to New York, so he decided he would do anything to stop the show. Grady takes Niki hostage, threatening to kill her so that Cioffi can't marry her. He tells Cioffi to give him his gun, but when Grady tries to shoot Cioffi he realizes that the gun has no bullets inside. He is foiled when Cioffi takes another gun from his jacket and Carmen pulls the trapdoor on him.
After everyone returns backstage to prepare for the reopening, Cioffi privately confronts Carmen: She killed Sidney. Carmen has been secretly acting on behalf of Bambi while pretending to be unsupportive so Bambi would have to work to get ahead rather than rely on nepotism. She wants her daughter Bambi to move on to Broadway, but Sidney was going to close the show. Cioffi agrees to give her until after the show's Broadway opening to turn herself in, and tells her that, with the right lawyer, she could easily be acquitted of what is surely justifiable homicide. Carmen tells Cioffi that he's one of them. Belling comes on and tells them that with Bobby's injury, he may not be ready for the performance.
Finally, the show reopens. Georgia is now Madame Marian, Cioffi has replaced Bobby as Rob Hood, and "A Tough Act to Follow" has become the new finale of the show.
- Act I
- "Wide Open Spaces" - Randy, Niki, Jessica, Bobby and Ensemble
- "What Kind of Man?" - Carmen, Oscar, Aaron and Georgia
- "Thinking of Him" - Georgia, Aaron and Bobby
- "The Woman's Dead" - Entire Company
- "Show People" - Carmen, Cioffi and Company
- "Coffee Shop Nights" - Cioffi
- "In the Same Boat 1" - Georgia, Niki and Bambi
- "I Miss the Music" - Aaron
- "Thataway!" - Georgia and Ensemble
- Act II
- "The Man is Dead" (reprise) - Sasha (the conductor)
- "He Did It" - Company
- "In the Same Boat 2" - Bobby, Randy and Harv Fremont
- "It's a Business" - Carmen and Stagehands
- "Kansasland" - Randy, Harv, Bambi and Ensemble
- "She Did It" (reprise) - Company
- "Thinking of Him/I Miss The Music" (Reprise) - Aaron and Georgia
- "A Tough Act to Follow" - Cioffi, Niki and Ensemble
- "In the Same Boat 3, 4, and 5" - Company
- "In the Same Boat Completed" - Cioffi and Ensemble
- "Show People" (Reprise) - Cioffi and Carmen
- "Wide Open Spaces" (Finale) - Ensemble
- "A Tough Act to Follow" (Reprise) - Company