With a tip of the hat to 42nd Street (tragedy befalls the talent-free leading lady of a Broadway-bound tuner), a nod to Kiss Me, Kate (formerly married co-workers who are still too darn hot for each other), and a wink at The Producers (a whitewashed Fred-and-Ginger fantasy featuring a flaxen-haired ingenue in a billowy blue dress), Curtains proudly enters the pantheon of poking-fun-at-the-genre shows. If only this new meta-musical had an identity of its own.
Even a quartet of Tony-winning writers — John Kander, Fred Ebb, Peter Stone, and Rupert Holmes — can’t jazz up a stable of stock characters (a conniving critic, an outrageously effete director) or the standard-issue murder-mystery plot. There are pleasures to be had: Rob Ashford’s acrobatic choreography, Holmes’ double-entendre-laced libretto, Megan Sikora’s terrific high-pitched turn as a bleached-blond chorine. And as a stagestruck police lieutenant, David Hyde Pierce — boasting a chowder-thick Boston accent and that Frasier-honed endearing fussiness — has charm and star quality to spare. But where’s his showstopping 11 o’clock number? The score lacks the depth and drive of Kander and Ebb’s best (Cabaret, Chicago), or the zing of Holmes’ ”Escape (The Piña Colada Song).” Curtains consistently amuses; unfortunately, it rarely thrills.