Curtain Up (novel)
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|Illustrator||D. L. Mays|
|Publisher||J. M. Dent & Sons|
Curtain Up is a children's novel about a theatrical family by British author Noel Streatfeild. It was first published in 1944. To remind potential readers of Streatfeild's highly successful first novel, Ballet Shoes, it is often retitled Theatre Shoes, or Theater Shoes in the US. A number of Streatfeild's children's novels have undergone similar retitling.
Curtain Up recounts the story of three siblings: Sorrel, Mark, and Holly Forbes. After their widowed father is reported missing during the war, and his father (their grandfather) dies, the children go to live in London with their grandmother on their mother's side, a retired actress. She sends them to the Children's Academy for Dancing and Stage Training, much against their will.
However, it is clear that the stage is in their blood, as they discover talents they never knew they had: Sorrel shines at acting, Mark at singing, and Holly at dancing and impressions.
The book also involves the Fossil sisters from Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes, as each Fossil girl provides each of the Forbes children with a scholarship to cover school expenses. Pauline sponsors Sorrel, Petrova, Mark, and Posy, Holly. The Fossil girls also exchange letters with the Forbes children, although when Miriam, the Forbes' cousin and another student at the school, shows herself to be an exceptionally talented dancer, Posy decides to sponsor her, as well, and to communicate with Miriam instead of with Holly. From these letters we learn that Pauline and Posy have made careers for themselves in Hollywood, after Posy and her teacher had to leave Czechoslovakia due to the war.
Sorrel Forbes - She is the eldest and has the Warren talent for acting. She normally has her hair in plaits and is determined for Mark to become an admiral. Pauline writes to her. She is a responsible character portaraying this throughout looking after her siblings. She did not know she was good at acting but now aspires to become an actress. She often has to compete for parts with her cousin Miranda throughout the story.
Mark Forbes - Mark is originally reluctant to become a stage performer but shines at singing. He doesn't like it when they are called "Warren" and defends the Forbes name. By the end of the book, he was heading back to his old boarding school, Wilton House. Petrova writes to him. He aspires to be a sailor as he says his father wanted that, he hates singing and often bribes people if they want him to sing.
Holly Forbes - Holly is the youngest and was thought to shine at dancing but soon discovers she has not the talent Posy was looking for. She does have a talent in impressions. For a part of the book she is first jealous at her cousins Miriam's attaché case and goes as far to take one belonging to Miranda, another cousin, and persuades herself that it was lent. At first Posy writes to her but stops after Miriam's talent is discovered, but still gives her a scholarship after Madame asks so not hurt Holly's feelings more.
Allusions to other works
Although not a true sequel, this novel contains references to the now-adult Fossil girls from Ballet Shoes, and the Forbes children attend the same school.
One of Sorrel's acting roles is Ariel in The Tempest.