During the curtain call at Curtains last night, after David Hyde Pierce hopped off his wheeled horse and took a bow, he complimented the wonderful audience and told us that the very first Broadway show his parents took him to was Kander & Ebb’s Zorba back in 1968, and here it was 40 years later, and he was actually on the stage performing a show by the legendary Kander & Ebb. Why would he tell us all that? Because last night was “Kids’ Night on Broadway,” and he was hoping to inspire many of the young audience members to keep on coming back to the theatre and to follow their dreams because you never know how far they’ll take you.
Kids’ Night is an audience development program sponsored by The Broadway League, during which children’s tickets to a number of Broadway shows are free when accompanied by a full-paying adult. The promotion is actually for four weeknights (Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and next) and is intended to make Broadway an open and accessible experience for both kids and adults.
The Tony Award-winning Pierce (whom you probably recognize as Niles Crane from NBC’s Frasier), was adorable as Lt. Frank Cioffi, a Boston detective with show biz aspirations who is called in to investigate a murder in a theatre company. The show, which is set in the ’50s, is a throwback to old-style musicals, complete with big song-and-dance numbers, as well as very funny comedy, a whodunit element, and a show-within-a-show. Debra Monk, as producer Carmen Bernstein, stole the show as she opened Act Two with the hilarious “It’s a Business,” and there were equally excellent performances by the talented Karen Ziemba as Georgia and comedic Edward Hibbert (who portrayed the fussy restaurant critic Gil Chesterton on Frasier).
Curtains was refreshingly clever – different from the ubiquitous Disney musicals, jukebox musicals and Travolta movie musicals that are on many of Broadway’s stages these days. All of it made for a charming evening for the whole family, and we’re looking forward to our pick for next week’s Kids’ Night – a haunting classic.