Elisa Sorbara, the artistic director of Shooting Star Theatre, is a very bright and articulate young woman. She is very excited about the imminent local premiere of the musical Curtains, which opens next week at the Westside Theatre.
Curtains, first produced on Broadway in 2007 with David Hyde Pierce and Deborah Monk, is one of the final collaborations between the legendary song writing team of John Kander and Fred Ebb. The pair were famous for penning the musicals Cabaret and Chicago, as well as the iconic song “New York, New York”. Ebb passed away in 2004.
The play is a parody of backstage murder mystery whodunits, set in 1959 in Boston at the opening of a Western–styled musical version of Robin Hood. When the leading lady dies at the curtain call, the entire cast is sequestered at the theatre while a detective, who is also a fan of the musical theatre genre, tries to solve the case. Hijinks and production numbers abound.
Sorbara is thrilled that her company is doing the show in Hamilton. “It is a musical murder mystery – a whodunit. It is bigger then any show we have ever done; it has cast of 21 with a live orchestra. It has cowboys, detectives and mermaids: I’m not sure what else an audience could ask for. It is really clever, a very funny piece”.
Curtains is the fourth production for Sorbara’s production company, Shooting Star, since its debut in September 2007 with the musical The Boyfriend.
“As of 2010, we now do two productions each year: a spring show as dinner theatre, and a larger theatre production each summer. This year both of the shows had mysteries as the common theme.”
Elisa, who is currently studying theatre at Brock University in St. Catherines, has far more experience in producing theatre then many of her classmates.
“The program is applied theatre. I am making some amazing connections there; if anything I am still learning to micro manage. It is all about keeping multiple balls up in the air at the same time.”
What is remarkable, too, is that Sorbara has accomplished so much despite coping with a physical disability.
“I need to take lots of breaks while I’m working and need to run on my own schedule. That’s what made me think that I could only do this with a company of my own. It was my parents who gave me the seed money to start the theatre. Our first show made money, which is why we are still producing three years later.”
Despite a personal passion for such a commercial genre as musical theatre, Sorbara isn’t just out to just sell tickets.
“I do think that theatre is for the general community. The musicals reach a non–theatre–going audience. If done properly, it can really reach an audience, and teach me something. It’s a great way to get a message across.”
First–time director Julie Buffett helms the production, which features all local performers from Hamilton’s community theatre scene.
“There are even a few first–time performers – their age ranges from 20 all the way up to 70. The cast includes Shari Vandermolen, Dan Konior, Kathleen Dodd, Luke Fillion and Chris Bee.”
What is Sorbara’s favorite moment working on the show so far?
“Our first dress rehearsal! We have over 150 costumes in the show; it was a magical moment to see everyone dressed in period clothing. It starts to feel real when you see all the that our team has accomplished.”
While still in university right now, Elisa wants to make the company into a full time undertaking. Her hope is to do more then just two productions each year.
“Hamilton has so much talent and everyone is working so hard to make this play wonderful. There is just so much enthusiasm around working on a show; people should definitely come see it!”
So there you go, folks: Shooting Star Theatre is striving to please and needs your help to do it. Check out Curtains when it opens next week at the Westside Concert Theatre. V
by Rupert Holmes & Fred Ebb.
@ Westside Concert Theatre.
434 King St. W. Hamilton.
Runs until August 22.
Tickets: 905-389-7827 or