Still time to catch Curtains Up! at Highlands Playhouse

The latest production at the Highlands Playhouse, Curtains Up!, recently opened and Director Marshall Carby said the response from the community has been tremendous.

From left are Jimmy Lewis and Andrew Harvey performing Sisters from White Christmas during the dress rehearsal of Curtains Up! at the Highlands Playhouse.

Curtains Up! is a salute to 83 years of performances at the Highlands Playhouse showcasing the very best of musical theater with selections from The Sound of Music, Annie, White Christmas, and The Wizard of Oz.

“This is a glimpse into the history of Highlands Playhouse through the lens of musical theater,” said Carby. “Odds are audience members will know most of the songs performed, as they are classics.

Part of the cast of Curtains Up! Clockwise from left are Bailey Baker, Andrew Farenbacher, Heidi Spoon, Andrew Harvey and Jimmy Lewis.

In addition, Curtains Up! includes contemporary Broadway hits and recent Playhouse favorites such as Guys & Dolls, Into the Woods, Buddy; the Buddy Holly Story, Mamma Mia, and many more!

“The artists who came together for Curtains Up are amazing,” said Carby. “Each of them has an incredible amount of talent. However, the thing that may not be as clear to the audience is how these artists collaborate. The harmonies in this show are complex and the performers sound like they have been singing together for years. In reality, they have only been working together for the last six weeks. This is a special group of people.”

Andrew Harvey performs in Curtains Up! Harvey is also known for his performance in Buddy; the Buddy Holly Story at the Playhouse, read more HERE.

Curtains Up! features the talents of some returning favorites, including Baily Baker, Andrew Harvey, and Jimmy Lewis who performed in Oklahoma! and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.

From left are Bailey Baker and Heidi Spoon performing in Curtains Up!

Baker grew up in Highlands and is thrilled to be spending her 8th season at the Playhouse.

“This show has golden age favorites and also introduces our audience to new works from contemporary musical theatre,” said Baker. “We hand crafted this show around what our community loves and what our performers love about being here in Highlands.”

From left are Mary Farenbacher and Bailey Baker performing in Curtains Up! Baker recently performed at the Playhouse in the production of Oklahoma, read more HERE.

Curtains Up! delivers over 30 songs throughout the 2-hour show and Baker tackles some iconic numbers, including Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

From left are Andrew Harvey, Mary Farenbacher, Bailey Baker, and Jimmy Lewis during the dress rehearsal performance of Curtains Up!

“It can always be difficult to perform such iconic numbers because people have strong memories of hearing the original work,” said Baker. “I think the goal is to do justice to the original composer while also bringing your own authentic voice to the stage.”

From left are Andrew Farenbacher, Andrew Harvey, and Jimmy Lewis in Curtains Up!

Lewis has returned for his 7th season at the Playhouse and reprises one of his most memorable roles as the Big Bopper in Curtains Up!

“Playing iconic roles and singing these well-known songs is so much fun because you know they have such a deep history with our audience and people enjoy them,” said Lewis. “It also is a bit nerve racking because the bar for how the performance has to go is set much higher than on songs that are less well known. But singing incredible songs just makes the work that much more enjoyable!”

Jimmy Lewis takes the stage during Curtains Up! dress rehearsal.

Lewis has been performing at the Playhouse since 2013 and said it’s an honor to return to such a special place.

“I fell in love with this town in 2013 because of the quality of the productions, the team that has been created to produce the shows, and the people in this town being so friendly and inviting every year,” said Lewis. “I feel honored to perform for this town and that they allow me back every year. I’ve also stayed here in the off season back in 2015 as the Outreach Coordinator and at the end of 2019 was promoted to Assistant Artistic Director when Marshall Carby became Artistic Director. I feel like Highlands has truly become my summer home!”

Mary and Andrew Farenbacher perform a scene in Curtains Up!

Set Designer Sarah Klocke said the primary goal for the design of Curtains Up! was capturing the magic of Broadway.

“Our limited production budgets helped us find creative solutions, such as reimagining past scenic units and incorporation theatrical lighting in never before seen ways at the Playhouse,” said Klocke.

Set designer Sarah Klocke made it work with limited time and budget.

Live theater was hit hard in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, and Klocke said it was generally understood going into this season that all elements of tech and design would need stretch their creativity as well as their budget.

Sarah Pool Wilheim gets sassy during a dueling pianos scene in Curtains Up!

“Each designer was aware we were working with limited resources and funds,” said Klocke. “We were all on board to create the highest quality possible within these paramotors. To be honest, it was exciting to approach this season’s scenic designs with a limited budget. I felt challenged and fulfilled by the task of operating in limitations surrounding COVID. However, I do look forward to bringing larger scenic designs to Highlands Playhouse in the near future.

Performances of Curtains Up! run through Sept 5. To purchase tickets, click HERE or call the box office at 828.526.2695.

From left are Baily Baker and Mary Farenbacher.

Highlands Playhouse Executive Director Scott Daniel addresses the audience before Curtains Up!

West Point Class of ’62 held their reunion in Highlands and were able to see the dress rehearsal of Curtains Up! Pictured in the center is Playhouse Executive Director Scott Daniel with Class of ’62 reunion organizers.

Curtains Up! Cast:
Bailey Baker
Andrew Harvey

Andrew Fehrenbacher
Mary Fehrenbacher
Jimmy Lewis
Heidi Karol Johnson-Spoon

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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