THE prospect of a musical which serves as a backdrop for a murder mystery warranted further investigation, writes Terry Canty.

The opening scenes of Curtains at Venue Cymru not only transport us back to late 1950s Boston and an opening night of the somewhat hokey mid-western musical Robin Hood but introduce us to a not-so-happy company left in a state of shock following the murder by poisoning of their lacklustre leading lady.

Jessica Cranshaw’s (Nia Jermin) performance was responsible not only for a string of poor reviews but a huge amount of resentment from fellow cast members, limiting the chances of the production being welcomed onto Broadway.

Enter musical-loving detective Lieutenant Frank Cioffi, played by comedian Jason Manford, charged with finding his man or woman, amid an atmosphere of blackmail, death threats, infighting and intrigue.

He must contend with more murders, red herrings and half truths before unmasking the killer.

Manford gives a masterful, and superbly mirthful performance.

He particularly shines on Coffee Shop Nights, his duet with love interest Niki Harris, played by the wonderful Leah Barbara West.

Carley Stenson, excellent as newly promoted lead Georgia Hendricks, sizzles during her rendition of Thinking of Him and Thataway while the awesome Rebecca Lock sparkles as the sassy, profit-motivated Carmen Bernstein on It’s a Business.

Other notables include Samuel Holmes as the the acerbic British show director Christopher Belling, and Andy Coxon as lyricist Aaron Fox, particularly with his touching performance of I miss the Music, along with Alan Burkitt as Bobby Pepper, Emma Caffrey as Bambi and Minal Patel as the put-upon stage manager Johnny.

If you enjoy musicals, Curtains, from the pen of Chicago and Cabaret creators Kander and Ebb, is for you.

If head-spinning whodunnits are your thing, Curtains is also for you.

Curtains is at Venue Cymru to February 8 at 7.30pm. Tickets from or the box office on 01492 872000.