This timely display in time for the 40th year of the Olivier Awards celebrates the wealth of talent that are shared between London’s West End and New York’s Broadway. 

Installation view of Curtain Up, running at the V&A until August. (C) Victoria and Albert Museum,London. 

Set right in the heart of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s section dedicated to the world of theatre, Curtain Up sweeps visitors right to the heart of the West End and Broadway in this concise – if slightly disappointingly short display.

The display pays tribute to all the work that goes into making a theatrical production that those who are sitting in the audience will have perhaps little understanding of while enjoying the overall effect.

Curtain Up is filled with video clips, costume designs, posters, set designs and costumes themselves that will certainly be appreciated by any regular theatregoer.

Installation View of Curtain Up. (C)Victoria and Albert Museum, London 

But this fascinating and detailed display also reveals how closely London and New York Theatre has been closely linked over the past forty years, with recent successful transfers including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Matilda the Musical – showcase the close involvement to share talent on both sides of the pond.

It is filled with tiny pieces of information that audiences perhaps won’t be aware of (unless you were fortunate to see both productions) – such as the changing of some of the lyrics in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita when it transferred to Broadway or the changing of the set design for the National Theatre’s production of Carousel when it transferred to New York in 1994.

Those who go to the theatre a lot will find plenty to enjoy, whether it is admiring the way in which the Tony and Olivier Awards have changed design wise or admiring costumes from Chicago or Phantom of the Opera.

But it is still worth a look even if you don’t attend the theatre on a regular basis as you still gain a valuable insight into the way in which this industry works from all angles.

The way in which the display has been presented is also effective and really can be theatrical itself in places, capturing the dedication and number of people involved in creating a production. However, it can feel a bit cramped in places and awkward in terms of making the best use of the space – perhaps a little more room is required to appreciate it even more.

However, this shouldn’t detract from the wonderfulness of the display that is a joyful celebration of the theatre.

Curtain Up runs at the Victoria and Albert Museum until the 31st August 2016. Admission to the display is free. 


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