News Column

'Curtains' (almost) direct from Broadway to Good Company Players

July 18, 2013

YellowBrix

July 18--Ever since Good Company Players staged its rousing 2011 production of "The Drowsy Chaperone," I've gushed about the show -- my all-time favorite GCP musical. I still run into people who regret missing it.

That often happens with new titles from Broadway that don't get as much national media exposure as big blockbusters. Some people get shy about shows without name recognition.

"The Drowsy Chaperone" shares a lot in common with GCP's latest new production, "Curtains," now in its opening weekend. Both are newer musicals -- "Curtains" opened on Broadway in 2007. Both have lots of sly insider theater humor. Both have a "play within a play" structure. Both are a lot less known than, say, "Jersey Boys."

And both feature GCP veteran Jessica Sarkisian. She performs the pivotal role of Georgia in "Curtains." We caught up with her via email to talk about this Central Valley premiere.

Question: What is "Curtains" about?

Answer: It's a murder mystery that takes place in a theater. Comedy ensues as cast members attempt to both solve the murders and fix their show in order to bring it to Broadway.

How well known is the show?

Not a lot of people have heard of this show and it's a shame! This is one of John Kander and Fred Ebb's best. They are best known for "Chicago" and "Cabaret," but "Curtains" is more light-hearted and fun.

Georgia is the lyricist of the musical the cast members are trying to fix. She used to be an actress and has "traded in her tap shoes for a rhyming dictionary." Georgia finds herself taking over the lead so the show can continue.

As an actor, have you ever replaced another actor in a show like your character does?

Replaced? No. Performed as an understudy? Many times!

Why do you think the "whodunit" backstage-theater-murder-mystery genre is so popular (and can be so funny)?

It's funny because the characters are in a stressful situation, and that allows for mistakes, mishaps and added drama.

What is director Elizabeth Fiester's approach to comedy with this production?

We just broaden the characters that are involved in every theatrical production. The show is written so well that just being these dramatic people is comedic.

There's a part of the storyline where your character is a bad dancer. Is that harder to do than to portray a good dancer?

I think so! I have trained for many years, so I have had to retrain myself. But dancing badly is really just its own kind of choreography.

What's your take on the songs from the show? What are a few of your favorites?

These songs are the kind you leave the theater singing. I enjoy all of them. My son's favorite is "Tough Act to Follow." Then there is the memorable ballad, "I Miss the Music." "It's a Business" and "What Kinda Man" are so funny. But if I had to pick a favorite, it would be "Show People." We sing, "It's an honor and a joy to be in show business," and that is how I feel.

Give us a recap of your theater career and GCP background.

I first performed when I was 8, and I was hooked! I spent my younger days performing in regional and children's theater in San Jose. Then I spent five years training in musical theater and dance at UC Irvine. I moved to Fresno in the fall of 2000. My husband suggested I audition for Good Company Players. I was cast as an understudy in "Nunsense" and in the ensemble of "Camelot." I have enjoyed 13 years of being a member of GCP more than I can say. Some of my favorites: "Spelling Bee," "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Funny Girl," "Sugar Babies," and of course, "Beauty and the Beast." It was a dream come true to be Belle. I also am a teacher by trade and have worked with the Junior Company as a director and choreographer for 11 years. Working with the Juniors is something I look forward to every year.

Anything else you'd like to say?

This is a show not to be missed. The cast is excellent, and it's a really fun night of theater. When I was in "Drowsy Chaperone" a lot of people came up to the cast and said they hadn't heard of the show, but they were so glad they came. I know that is what people will be saying about "Curtains." I am very proud to be a part of this production.

Theater preview

"Curtains," through Sept. 15, Roger Rocka's Dinner Theater, 1226 N. Wishon Ave. gcplayers.com, (559) 266-9494. $29-$49.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6373, dmunro@fresnobee.com and @donaldbeearts on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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(c)2013 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

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