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STAGE REVIEW

LA's 'Curtains' puts the spotlight on the Colonial

In Los Angeles, the Ahmanson Theatre is regularly filled with people laughing at a murder on the stage of Boston's Colonial Theatre. Our beloved jewelbox is the setting for a new John Kander-Fred Ebbs-Rupert Holmes musical-comedy murder mystery, ``Curtains," that's getting positive reviews and strong ticket sales in its pre-Broadway tryout.

The show, set in 1959, is about a show trying out in Boston, and the Ahmanson stage has been transformed into a replica of the Colonial, gold leaf and all.

It looks identical to the real thing, according to Ken Werther , press associate at the Center Theater Group, of which the Ahmanson is a part.

``I know, because I grew up in Boston and saw many shows at the Colonial," Werther says by phone.

Werther briefly describes the plot: A musical ``Robbin' Hood" (sic) is mounting a pre-Broadway tryout at the Colonial. The leading lady collapses and dies onstage on opening night, in full view of the audience. Lieutenant Frank Cioffi (played by David Hyde Pierce ) is brought in to solve the crime. A musicals buff, he also seeks to help fix the show.

The Boston Globe plays a role in this, too. Globe critic Daryl Grady (John Bolton ) has given the musical a terrible review: ``If you loved `Oklahoma!,' stay there as long as `Robbin' Hood' is running in Boston." The producers invite him back for another look after they recast the leading lady.

The show also features Debra Monk, Karen Ziemba, Jason Danieley, Jill Paice, and six others.

``Curtains" runs through Sept. 30 and then is supposed to move to New York at a date to be announced. But unfortunately, this show that really should play in Boston isn't scheduled to, Werther says.

The catfight continues
Ex-``Dynasty" divas Joan Collins and Linda Evans will face off again -- this time onstage -- in the revival of James Kirkwood's comedy ``Legends!" They play feuding Hollywood divas being wooed by an unscrupulous young producer to appear in the same play together. The pre-Broadway tour brings ``Legends!" to the Shubert Theatre March 6-11. Among the producers is Spring Sirkin, producing director of Boston's Chamber Theatre Productions, who was one of the team of producers presenting ``Faith Healer" on Broadway. Tickets ($39.50-$69.50) can be purchased at the Shubert Theatre box office at 265 Tremont Street, 800-447-7400, and www.wangcenter.org.

Breaking ground in Wellfleet
Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater will break ground for its new 200-seat, state-of-the-art theater Sunday at noon (rain date: Aug. 27 at noon). The public is invited to celebrate with producing artistic director Jeff Zinn, five-time Tony winner and WHAT honorary chairman Julie Harris, and comedian/commentator Jimmy Tingle. The event will take place under a tent alongside the Wellfleet Post Office on Route 6 -- the construction site of the new theater. Refreshments will be served, and $50 tickets will be sold for a drawing for two sets of lifetime subscriptions. The drawing will be held Sept. 11 at a WHAT benefit performance of ``Stuff Happens" by David Hare at the Provincetown Town Hall. Raffle tickets: 508-349-3011, www.what.org.

Local profs make good
A new musical by two local theater professors has been selected for the 2006 New York Musical Theatre Festival, an annual fall event that has led to hit off-Broadway musicals such as ``Altar Boyz," ``Captain Louie," and ``Shout." The one-man show, ``The Man in My Head," was written by Massachusetts Institute of Technology associate professor Thomas M. DeFrantz (book), with Michael Wartofsky (music and lyrics), an associate professor at Berklee College of Music. It stars Obie-Award-winning actor Darius de Haas and runs Sept. 26-30 at the 45th St. Theatre in New York. Tickets: $20. www.nymf.org.

Notes
A new musical, ``Disorder: A Mother-Daughter Vaudeville," with book by Katie Baldwin, music by Gihieh Lee, and lyrics by Julianne Wick Davis and Baldwin, is being given a workshop production by Barrington Stage Company's Musical Theatre Lab under the leadership of artistic producer William Finn. Through Aug. 27 at the Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield. Tickets: $12 (tonight only), $25, $30. 413-236-8888, www.barringtonstageco.org. . . . ``Cirque Jacqueline," Andrea Reese's one-woman show about Jackie Kennedy that played Provincetown last summer, returns for a limited engagement Aug. 21-27 at the Art House in Provincetown. Tickets: $20. 866-811-4111, www.capetix.com. Info: jackieoshow.com .

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