Hopes high for Ahmanson musical premiere

Times Staff Writer

"Curtains," a new musical comedy with book by Rupert Holmes, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, will have its world premiere in mid-July at the Ahmanson Theatre in what Center Theater Group artistic director Michael Ritchie hopes will be its pre-Broadway run.

"To be able to bring it to Broadway -- that's not solidified," Ritchie said in an interview Thursday. "But we feel like we have a show that has the potential, the ability and the wherewithal to go to Broadway."

With Ebb's death in 2004, "Curtains" -- a backstage murder mystery set in 1959 Boston -- represents one of the last collaborations of the famed Kander-Ebb songwriting team. Their credits include "Cabaret," "Chicago" and "Kiss of the Spider Woman." Holmes' book is based on a book by Peter Stone; Holmes and Kander contribute additional lyrics.

David Hyde Pierce, veteran of "Frasier" and currently starring on Broadway in "Spamalot," will be featured in the cast as a detective who also happens to be an avid musical-theater fan. Scott Ellis will direct.

The show is the second musical that appears to be headed for Broadway in Ritchie's inaugural season as head of CTG. It follows "The Drowsy Chaperone," which won good reviews and closed its run in December.

As with "Chaperone," Ritchie said, the show's name is unfamiliar to audiences. But, he added, "Kander and Ebb -- if you say that to any kind of sophisticated audience ... that's currency. If you say 'David Hyde Pierce, who is starring in the biggest hit on Broadway' -- that's currency."

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