Cioffi Lines

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WOMENS DEAD: POSTIVELY-

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WOMENS DEAD: POSTIVELY-

Excuse me, I'm Lieutenant Frank Cioffi of the Greater Boston Police. I'm assigned to the Homicide Division and oh - it's an honor to be standing on the same stage with each and every one of you.

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WOMENS DEAD: DEAD! DEAD! DEAD!

Sorry if I've interrupted a rehearsal but let me assure you that I don't have want my own work to delay your production from reaching the home on Broadway it genuinely deserves. I happened to see Robbin' Hood in previews and may I say that, with the exception of the deceased Miss Cranshaw, you're all just wonderful performers. And what a great score.

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GEORGIA: On behalf of my half of that compliment, thanks as well.

You're more than welcome. I've, well, I've done a little community theatre myself - oh, no, nothing that fancy, although my Billy Bigelow at the Brookline Barnhouse got a favorable review...and in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," my Bottom was very well-received.

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BELLING: Wait a moment. You say you're from Homicide?

Ah, well, yes. Based on a preliminary autopsy, it's clear that Jessica Cranshaw was murdered.

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GEORGIA: What...What killed her?

Hydrocyanic acid, commonly used in electroplating, as well as the gas chamber at San Quentin. It was a in capsule form, which is why no one realized she'd been poisoned until the capsules dissolved in her stomach, starting a chemical reaction that created her own personal gas chamber internally...

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GEORGIA: Horrible.

Working backwards from when the capsules dissolved, we know she swallowed them in the very final minutes of this evening's performance.

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AARON: Couldn't she have poisoned herself?

Trauma at the back of her throat suggests she didn't take the capsules voluntarily. Now may I ask who's in charge here, other than myself.

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BELLING: Permit me, Lieutenant. I'm the critically-acclaimed director Christopher Belling and I'll be blocking your investigation.

I hope that's not the case. But if you need to wrap things up with your cast, please go right ahead.

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COMPANY: Horse shit!

I can't believe I'm hearing this! I won't believe it! Putting on a musical has got to be the most fulfilling thing a person could ever hope to do. You're all heroes to me.

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COMPANY: (End of show)

And listen: Robbin' Hood really should go on-

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NIKI: Lieutenant, may I speak to you for a moment. My name's Niki-

-Harris. Miss Niki Harris. I read your bio several time through on the bus ride home the other night. May I say I found your performance particularly memorable? It was just lovely.

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NIKI: Well thank you.

Lovely.

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NikiL Well thank you.

I'm crazy about your little vibrato.

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NIKI: You're very kind. Anyway, yesterday Miss Cranshaw asked me to coach her on her lines and of course I said I'd be glad to help-

That's so like you.

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NIKI: Well, I'm also her understudy - at least I was - I guess I'm Georgia's now - but then these three letters fell out of Miss Cranshaw's script. She didn't take them seriously but I kept them. I'm afraid my fingerprints are all over them. They're death threats! See: the words and letters have been pasted onto the paper. Cut with little curved finger scissors from a newspaper or magazine. I would imagine.

"You're murdering the score but I'll murder you." 'You'll drop before the curtain does." "If you don't quit, you'll die legit."

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NIKI: Can you tell anything from them?

Well they seem pretty negative in spirit.

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Well, yes, of course.

Oh, I'm sorry, you were hoping for the Arthur Conan Doyle version? Unfortunately, these notes reveal very little, except that the person who sent them is a man in his early thirties, six feet four in height, who wears a pewter ring, served in the Merchant Marine, and despite being right handed, is known to his closest friends as "Lefty."

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How...however did you know that?

Oh I don't. I was just saying that, you probably hoped I would be able to tell - wow, if I could do that just from - I mean - wow.

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CARMEN: Gee, for a second I was impressed, as I once told my husband at the Hotel Taft. Well, what do you say we all go across the street and have ourselves one slobberknocker of a wake for the late-if-less-than-great Jessica Cranshaw? Drinks are on me!

Just a minute! I'm sorry but - this theater is quarantined. All the exits are guarded. And uh - none of you can leave. No I'm sorry, the entire Company and crew will be living right here, in the theater, until further notice. Emergency Services will bring in cots and meals.

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CARMEN: The talented members and even you, Elaine!

Listen, listen, tell me if I'm wrong here, but to the best of my recollection, Jessica Cranshaw never left the stage during the show's last ten minutes. If so then I'm very sorry but she had to have been murdered by one of you. I've never had a case with this many suspects and I can't have each of you followed around the clock. Better I keep you all under lock and key until I solve this crime.

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CARMEN: You're taking the law into your own hands, Cioffi!

Well that's - that's sort of what I'm paid to do. I mean, that's why I have a badge and my own gun...anyway: being sequestered here will let you focus on fixing the show....

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SIDNEY: Keep your goddarn hands off me, you hear?

Who's that?

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SIDNEY: What, you expect me to be upset? I left you in charge of opening night and return to find a murdered leading lady, deadly reviews and a bunch of cops who tell me I can't leave this theater!

I'm afraid you've arrived at just the wrong time for you just the right time for me, Mr. Bernstein.

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SIDNEY: Excuse me?

Lieutenant Frank Cioffi. Now listen, folks, you should all go about your various tasks just as if this weren't the scene of a homicide. Ms. Ofarell is waiting downstairs for your pertinent information. I'd like each of you to give her your name, address and eight by ten glossy - and I'll be speaking with all of you in the morning. Pleasant dreams, everyone.

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SIDNEY: Lieutenant, I can't be a suspect, I was in Manhattan when Jessica got murdered.

Can you prove that?

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SIDNEY: It so happens I was keeping company with a young actress I happen to be keeping. On Sutton Place. If I give you her name, it could ruin her reputation.

Your chivalry is touchingly convenient.

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SIDNEY: Lieutenant, I have many influential friends in New York City!

Too bad you're in Boston.

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NIKI: And will you be wanting me any further, Lieutenant?

No, but I do have some questions for your boyfriend.

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NIKI: I don't have a boyfriend.

Oh my gosh. Um, actually, Miss Harris, I'd like to take you into my confidence regarding this investigation.

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NIKI: Why's that Lieutenant?

Well because if I don't, there's really no reason for us to keep talking.

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NIKI: Then take me into your confidence with confidence, Lieutenant.

Something's very wrong here. I just met an opening night cast who all seemed incredibly eager to close.

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NIKI: Well I can understand how they might feel. They all gave up wonderful jobs in hit Broadway musicals to work up here in Boston. I've never performed outside of this city, and Bambi's had to fight her mother at every step just to be in the chorus, but the rest of the cast are underpaid and overworked - though surely not enough to drive any of them to murder.

Keep in mind I'm within arm's reach at any hour of the day or night.

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NIKI: You think I'm in some danger?

No, that was a completely unrelated thought.

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NIKI: You live with danger on a daily basis, don't you, Lieutenant?

Oh, most of the time, it's just paperwork and procedure. Detectives have no opening night, Miss Harris. We make our entrance after the curtain has fallen on someone else's life.

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NIKI: But it's a calling, isn't it? Like a doctor or teacher.

Or an actor.

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NIKI: I suppose you're right. I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. It's not wrong to be married to one's work, is it?

No. Not at all. But sometimes it's no honeymoon.

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NIKI: It's reassuring to have such a dependable schedule. Like Matinees every Wednesday.

Or Brisket and Broad Beans each Thursday....

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NIKI: But, your acting roles, don't they make for a change?

Oh Miss Harris, each year from May twenty-third to the twelfth of June when I turn my life over the Swallow Street Players, that's more than a vacation for me. It's an overature of hope, the curtains rising on the greatest joy of my life. But the rest of the year...

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MOSTLY LUNCH COUNTER MORNINGS AND COFFEE SHOP NIGHTS

I don't mean to seem forward but might I walk you home.

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NIKI: Oh, I'd be delighted - but you said we're not allowed to leave.

Dam.

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BELLING: Ah, Herr Lieutenant! Rising from your interrogation chamber to grace us with your presence?

Thought I'd stretch my legs. I've been stuck in the Green Room all day.

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BELLING: At least you got to sleep in your own bed last night.

Sorry about that.

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BELLING: I - uhm - I intrigue you, don't I, Lieutenant?

Yes, Mr. Belling, as both a director and a suspect.

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O'FARRELL: Lieutenant, i got what you wanted.

Oh thank God. Oh Thank god. The clothes for Niki Harris that I asked for?

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O'FARRELL: Nothing but blues and greens, just like you said. You trying to set some kind of trap for her?

No, I'm trying to match her eyes.

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46

JOHNNY: Heads up, I'm tripping the silk drop!

Excuse me, Lieutenant Frank Cioffi, Homicide. Mind telling me who you are and how you got in here?

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GRADY: Oh, as a member of the press, I'm exempt from your quarantine, Lieutenant. Daryl Grady of Boston Globe.

After the review you gave Robbin' Hood, I can't imagine why you'd show your face here of all places.

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GRADY: Listen, I tried my level best to say something good about your production. I praised the choreography, and that young woman who played the schoolmarm, Niki, um--

Harris.

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NIKI: Oh, good day, Lieutenant.

You've just made it one, Miss Harris.

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SIDNEY: That dress goes very nicely with your eyes, Niki.

Thank you.

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GRADY: Please don't misunderstand, Miss Harris, but I try not to fraternize with the artists I review. But let me say you did stand out in what was otherwise and abundantly misguided production.

Mr. Grady, I thought your review of "Robin' Hood" was needlessly cruel and way off the mark.

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GRADY: Well I'm not sure you know how to judge acting, Lieutenant.

Of course, you're the expert. However, I regret to inform you that I'm now placing you under arrest for the crime of murder.

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GRADY: What? Have you lost your mind?

Any statement you make may be taken down in writing and used against you in a court of law.

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GRADY: This is insane! What in God's name are you saying?

I'm saying my best lines from Agatha Christie's "Murder at the Vicarage." I played Chief Inspector Slack for the Natick Town Players two summers ago. Oh. Did you think I was saying that for real? Gosh, I'm not sure you know how to judge acting, Mr. Grady. You can go now.

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NIKI: Swell acting, Lieutenant. And not just on a community theater level. I mean college.

Oh , well, thank you.

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NIKI: And how is your investigation coming along, if I may ask?

I've been going over the show's finanical records, and you know, you were right: everyone here is working for the same Equity minimum - not just newcomers like you and Bambi, but your stars as well - look, this is no place to talk, let's you and me get out of here for a little while-

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NIKI: You won't let me leave.

Dam.

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BELLING: Niki, go fetch Bambi. I have no choice but to re-block "In the Same Boat" here and now.

Oh I'm going to have to watch this.

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BOBBY: Why, you think something's going to happen?

No, I just really like this number. Although.

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BOBBY: What?

Oh, it's nothing, but-

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BOBBY: What?

My gosh, I can't believe I'm actually saying this and, and shoot me with my own gun if I'm out of line...

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BOBBY: What is it?

I don't think simply changing the choreography is going to help. The song itself is kind of lackluster. It lacks...

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BOBBY: Yes?

Luster. Three women on the Arkansas River in a rowboat that's sinking fast... trying to get to the Federal Courthouse in Wichita before the farmers lose their land...great stuff, it's your eleven o'clock number ... But the music itself is kind of - I wonder, could we hear a bit of it?

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WHEN YOU'RE IN THE SAME BOAT

You see what I'm saying? For such a big moment in the show, it's sort of mild-mannered-

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BELLING: I can't say that again.

Mr. Belling's rehearsal takes priority, so anyone who needs to change costumes go ahead. The rest of you, please proceed to the Green Room, where Detective O'Farrell will be fingerprinting the entire Company - that is, unless one of you would be kind enough to explain why you committed murder. So let's clear the stage and give our composer the solitude he needs... that should buy you a few minutes alone with your piano, Mr. Fox.

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AARON: Alone, yeah.

Must be quite a challenge, having to create, when your writing partner is...

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AARON: Otherwise engaged?

Could I ask, only because I've wondered this my entire life, which would normally come first, the music or the lyric?

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AARON: Same answer as the chicken or the egg.

So it's the lyric.

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AARON: No, a great melody doesn't always need a lyric. Or a lyricist.

Then how do you start?

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AARON: Well, it can start with a note. Which can become a phrase. And you try hanging words on each branch, like trimming a tree.

Sounds easy enough.

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AARON: Really? You see the problem.

Dangling participle. So you suggest staying away from love?

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AARON: At all costs. And don't mention your life. Or you'll have to say CUTS LIKE A KNIFE. Or refer to the HEARTBREAK AND STRIFE, when you find that you're missing your-

Missing?

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AARON: What?

You were saying what you miss.

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GEORGIA: Aaron - Oh, sorry, am I interrupting?

No, I'm afraid I'm the guilty party there.

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But thank you, Mr. Fox, for all the insights.

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Miss Hendricks, best of luck in your upcoming number. We'll speak later.

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CARMEN/OSCAR: That's fantastic, Georgia, everybody!/Worth every penny!!

With Georgia now it's dynamic and uplifting, leaving the audience champing at the bit for Act Two And this set - who doesn't love RED?!

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BELLING: Very good and as long as we're all in our positions, I want to fix our pose for the Act One curtain.

Oh, sorry-sorry-sorry, but if I may - I've had a chance to speak to everyone and you seem to be a terrific bunch of people, but I'm afraid this briefcase contains some very compromising evidence I've turned up about one of you -

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Don't want to point fingers but I have some additional questions for the person here who-

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JOHNNY: Lieutenant, an urgent call from Headquarters.

Shoot. Mr. Belling, just go on with what you were doing.

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BELLING: Yes, all right, so as I was saying. I want to set our pose for the Act One curtain so if you'll all--- (LIGHTS OUT)

Lights!

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(CONT'D after lights)

As I thought. As you were. Looks like everyone but Niki has something to hide. There's nothing in the briefcase, by the way - except a container of chowder from the Union Oyster House.

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SASHA: Is it Manhattan?

Yeah, here you go...

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So: I've questioned all of you, made a few phone calls, and what do I come up with? A murder victim named Jessica Cranshaw working for a fraction of her usual firm salary.

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A distingued director who despised the late Miss Cranshaw but slaves to make this show work all the same.

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A dancer-choreographer who turns down a chance to wrk with Balanchine to do a song and dance for spare change.

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Ex-partners in marriage and music who inexplicably reunite though they no longer work in harmony.

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A one-man bank named Oscar Shapiro, who despite having no prior interest in theatre, suddenly sinks one payment after another into this musical

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A Company who celebrates when their show is torn to ribbons by the critics, because this means they're at long last free to take better jobs back on Broadway. What does this tell me? That Sid Bernstein has been blackmailing every member of this company into working on this show!

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Even you dancers?

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ROBERTA: Okay, so when I was starting out, I gave Sid Berstein a private audition I hoped would stay private.

But what about you chorus boys? You all seem like clean-cut fellows - I mean, what could all of you have possibly done that you wouldn't want the folks back home to know?

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AARON: Lieutenant, I have to think most people have something about themselves they'd like to keep to themselves.

Agreed, but I'm not here to uncover all your dark secrets. Only the one that caused someone to murder Jessica Cranshaw.

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CARMEN: People: I had no idea this was how Sidney got you all to work so cheap, he's the one who handles the negotiations.

Well he won't be able to deal his way out of breaking the law. Ladies and gentlemen, you won't be blackmailed anymore...

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But you're all still murder suspects.

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Now get to work! You may have joined this show for the wrong reasons, but you're going to press on...because you have a contract-

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CARMEN: Dam straight.

And Oscar deserves a return on his investment-

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OSCAR: Thank you.

And because the best way for me to solve Jessica's murder is to keep the heat turned up in this pressure cooker of a theater - and lastly: because this could be a REALLY GOOD SHOW! Take it, Chris!

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98

BELLING: Did you see something go up as the curtain went down?

My god, raise the curtain, quick!

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JOHNNY: Curtain!

Johnny, don't lower the Curtain!

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JOHNNY: Curtain! I think we fixed the curtain.

You better make it a blackout.

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