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

Where there’s a Will (Rogers) there’s a way

East Bay publicist Robert Rezak shares the following item with us from the current production of Will Rogers Follies:

He’s appeared in 22 productions of The Will Rogers Follies, a Life in Revue. But Shane Partlow’s performance in Diablo Light Opera Company’s production, continuing through Sept. 27, will be only his second in the title role.

One reason Partlow is so much in demand for the show is that he’s a professional roper, as was Rogers, the American folk hero who claimed he “never met a man I didn’t like.”

A resident of Los Angeles, Partlow’s television work includes appearances on the series “Will & Grace” and “Gilmore Girls.” He recently starred in the national tour of The Queen of Bingo, an off-Broadway comedy.

Will Rogers Follies is at the Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek. Tickets are $34-$41. Call 925-943-7469 or visit

“With a top star and cast, along with colorful costumes, fast-paced dancing and exciting songs, the musical is just the thing to stir up our patriotic emotions during this election year,” said Daren A. C. Carollo, DLOCs artistic director. “It’s also another great send off to DLOC’s 50th anniversary celebration that began in June and ends in the fall of 2009.”

Among the 33-member cast is Suzanne Brandt, a San Ramon resident, who plays a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl, a role for which she is well prepared.

At 18 she was under contract with the MGM Grand/Ballys Reno, dancing in the multi-million dollar Hello, Hollywood, Hello, a show which ran nightly for 11 years. Next came a contract with Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, where she danced in 400 cabaret performances. In Las Vegas, she performed in Jubilee!, another multi -million dollar spectacle, with costumes by Bob Mackie, at Ballys Casino.