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'Curtains' raises bar for local theatrical troupe

By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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If El Dorado Musical Theatre's latest production is any indication, the local theatrical troupe has really stepped up their game. "Curtains" is a musical murder mystery set in 1959 Boston, Mass., with the cast of a fictional western-themed play. From amazing vocal performances to outstanding dance numbers, all put against the best sets I've seen in a local show, "Curtains" is one you can't miss. And it's no wonder the sets are so incredible, according to EDMT Executive Director Wade Sherman, they've also been used in Theater Under the Stars in Houston, Texas, and in the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. Easily standing more than two stories high, the gritty set for the "behind the scenes" theater is perfect. It includes windows, brick work and a door for a dramatic entrance during one point in the show. Other sets for the fictional musical are just as stellar, dropping in when needed. Friday's opening night was abuzz with excitement as family and friends of those in the production waited eagerly for the start. Debbie Wilson, director and choreographer, asked the audience if anyone had ever seen "Curtains." A few scattered hands were raised. "Isn't this exciting? So few of you have seen this," she said. From beginning to end, "Curtains" is unlike many shows. Its comedic timing, dance numbers, songs, layered vocals and essentially telling two stories in one play makes everything that much more interesting. STAND OUTS Our picks for standouts are tough in this one, because everyone stood out. For vocal performance, it has to be the number by Aaron Fox (Chris Meissner) for the song "I Miss the Music." As my 13-year-old son Cian said, "I want that song on my iPod. It was that good." For dancing, the obvious choice is Bambi Bernet (Anjie Rose Wilson) for her high-energy number while sporting a two-piece Native American-themed outfit. Anjie is 14 and home-schooled. It's her 35th show with EDMT. She was also my son's favorite. For sheer stage presence, Carmen Berstein (Helen Regula) easily takes that honor. Her power vocals and portrayal of a belittling mother to Bambi make her an easy choice. We last spotted the 17-year-old Ponderosa High School student in "Anything Goes" and she made a real splash as the main character in "Hairspray" before that. For acting, Lt. Frank Cioffi (Matt Surges) is the best choice. Even my 11-year-old daughter Parker picked him as her favorite. "I liked the cop," she said. "He was so good." His vocals and dancing were spot on as well. He gives a top-notch performance as the detective with longings to be on the stage. He's a 20-year-old California State University, Sacramento, student. Georgia Hendricks (Katherine Sorgea) also earns high marks for her performance as the lyricist-turned-leading lady. The 20-year-old Folsom Lake College student never disappoints on stage. Sorgea wowed us in EDMT's "Anything Goes" and continues to keep the audience wowed in her latest role. Finally, I have to mention Niki Harris (Heather Clark). The role of a sweet-natured leading-lady understudy can get lost quickly, but with Clark's talent, she pulls it off admirably. Clark, 20, also attends Folsom Lake College. One of my personal favorite scenes is a dream-like dance number between her character and the detective. Great choreography and comedy all come together here. Don't be surprised if Elly nominations coming pouring in for EDMT's "Curtains." In all, I highly recommend this show. It's smart, funny, energetic and quirky -- the perfect mix. * * * KNOW AND GO What: "Curtains" Where: Three Stages at Folsom Lake College, 10 College Parkway, Folsom When: 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 7 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, through July 30. No 7 p.m. show on July 31. Cost: $14 to $29 Tickets: (916) 608-6888 or threestages.net Rating: 5 out of 5 stars