It’s Curtains for Diablo Theatre Company

Curtains, the final collaboration of legendary John Kander and Fred Ebb (Rupert Holmes came in to finish the show after Ebb’s death), is finally taking a Bay Area bow.

Diablo Theatre Company (formerly Diablo Light Opera Company) opens the show tonight (Feb. 12) at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, where it runs through Feb. 28.

A combination backstage musical meets murder mystery, Curtains won a Tony Award for its Broadway leading man, David Hyde Pierce, who played Lieutenant Frank Cioffi, a Boston homicide detective investigating the death of a musical theater diva.

Here comes the judge

Curtains 02In the DTC production, Oakland’s Tom Reardon plays Cioffi, and that right-side-of-the-law sleuth isn’t too far removed from Reardon’s actual day job: he’s an Alameda County Superior Court judge.

Reardon (right) has performed with a number of Bay Area companies, including Contra Costa Civic Theatre. He previously appeared in DTC productions of Peter Pan (he was Captain Hook in 2007), and last year he was Henry Higgins in the Lamplighters production of My Fair Lady.

So how did the Hon. Tom Reardon make the leap to song-and-dance man?

“For many years I have sung with a small group of friends for charitable events.” Reardon explains. “We sing the Broadway songbook and call ourselves the Broadway Babies. But, it wasn’t until four years ago that I first had a stage role. A friend was in need of men for the ensemble of Anything Goes. I turned up to help him out and somehow was given the lead in the show. And the rest is East Bay community theater history.”

Reardon adds that he’s been “fortunate to have played some great roles in a short time.”

Super conductor

chad runyon 1Former member of the Grammy-winning ensemble Chanticleer, Chad Runyon (left) is playing several roles in DTC’s Curtains. He’s conducting the orchestra and he’s playing Sasha, the Russian conductor for the show-within-the-show, Robin Hood.

And he does it all without leaving the orchestra pit.

Runyon, a Danville resident, spent 10 years exploring some of the greatest choral music ever written with Chanticleer. Since he left the group, he has continued recording and also teaches, conducts and has been vocal director for DTC since the company’s production of Thoroughly Modern Millie three years ago.

For Curtains, Runyon has had to brush up his Russian accent.

“I have the added challenge of keeping the ball rolling in the actual show,” he says, “working with our wonderful pit instrumentalists and singing actors. It will be a fun challenge, and the show will be lots of fun for the audience. Sort of a blend of Oklahoma!, Sherlock Holmes and Mel Brooks.”

Here’s the trailer for the show:

“Curtains” Trailer from Diablo Theatre Company on Vimeo.


Diablo Theatre Company Diablo Theatre Company’s Curtains runs Feb. 12-28 at the Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek. Tickets are $29 to $42. Call 925-943-7469 or visit or

Remembering Cathy Schutz

Cathy Schutz, my dear friend, co-worker and fellow theater lover died on Saturday.

We met 10 years ago when I started as the theater critic for what was then called the Alameda Newspaper Group, which was then ANG Newspapers and is now Bay Area News Group-East Bay. She was one of my editors and the one I always wrote for. I write best when I write for a specific audience, and Cathy was my ideal audience. She loved reading about theater — and I loved delighting her. I remember I once used the word “twee” in a review, and she was so excited I wanted to use the dang word in every review. Too bad for me, not enough shows traffic in twee.

One of the many things I loved about Cathy — her sense of humor, her use of expressions such as “oh my ears and whiskers” and her unflagging support of me among them — was her dedication to her local community theater, which happened to be the Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito.

She was in shows, she produced shows, she publicized shows, she created costumes for shows, she did just about every conceivable thing for shows at this fine little theater.

In fact, just a week ago, at Cathy’s invitation, I was at the CCCT for a staged reading of a new play, Ah, Samolo!, a stage adaptation of Noel Coward’s novel Pomp and Circumstance.

In the late stages of the cancer that tried — mostly unsuccessfully — to dim her boundless enthusiasm, Cathy served as producer of this event, which was something new for the CCCT to get involved in a play at its birth.

Though weak, Cathy, who I believe was 59, made it to the theater for last weekend’s big event, which was hugely successful, and I was so pleased to get to see her in her natural habitat one last time. I didn’t know then it would be the last time, of course, and now I’m a little heartbroken that the world is minus one sweet, smiling theater lover who also happened to be a dear friend and colleague. I know it’s selfish, because Cathy meant an awful lot to just about everyone who knew her, but I can’t help wishing we’d had just one more show together.

So, Cathy, whatever opulent musical number you’re starring in now, replete with feather boas, tiaras, rhinestones and a dance solo to show off all those years of training, know that you’re still my ideal audience, and I’m going to keep writing for you.