Review: Curtain Up at the V&A


 Curtain Up: Celebrating 40 Years of Theatre in London and New York at the V&A is a proud and joyous transatlantic display of the rich and glittering history of two theatrical heavyweights - London’s West End and New York’s Broadway.

A small (and free!) exhibition, Curtain Up brings visitors up close and personal with iconic costumes. Many of the costuming highlights range from the lavish Red Death ensemble from the eternal blockbuster The Phantom of the Opera to the roughly shredded chiffon bottoms from Matthew Bourne’s erotically charged Swan Lake.

As well as an insight into the painstakingly fine details of costumes, there is an array of intricate set designs, scripts, letters detailing challenging props transfers, a wonderfully charming note from Ian McKellan to an understudy and videos of industry insiders revealing the demanding highs and lows of the business. Curtain Up goes beyond the glamour of a night watching a stellar performance - it also guides you through the years and months of planning and creating a production where success is hard won.

An exhibition that embraces the past and present, Curtain Up features technical innovations in groundbreaking productions. A Chorus Line is revealed to be the first show to use a computerised lighting system back in 1975 and visitors can immerse themselves in the video installations and lighting displays of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Curtain Up is a must for all theatre fans not just in London and New York but everywhere. An exhibition that thrills and inspires just like a great night in the stalls.

Curtain Up is on at the V&A until 31st August and opens at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts this autumn - a good excuse for a stateside trip.


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