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A CurtainUp Connecticut Review
City of Angels
“I’ve read a synopsis of every book you’ve written.” —Buddy Fidler to Stine.
Underneath all the glitter and glam, the Tony award musical City of Angels shows just how tough it is for a fiction writer to construct a film script even when he has won a Pulitzer Prize for the novel.
In 1989 when City of Angels opened on Broadway, it was a real departure. Cy Coleman’s syncopated music and vocal arrangements with Yaron Gershovsky sported the jazz of the 1940’s; yet it was very modern, reflecting the film noir themes in the clever book written by Mash’s Larry Gelbart. David Zippel’s lyrics rippled with staccato beats. The whole piece told the story in 40 scenes unfoldinglike a film with one side of the set in a technicolor movie, the other in black and white Hollywood.
Burke Moses (top) and D.B. Bonds
in City of Angels
Darko Tresnjak has met the demanding challenge of directing an interesting and entertaining version of the show on Goodspeed’s small stage. David P. Gordon uses white plantation blinds as a backdrop, which rise and fall to both reveal and hide the large cast, costumed by Tracy Christensen.
On the Hollywood side of the set, there is the dark grubby office of private eye Stone, a defrocked cop played by dark-haired handsome Burke Moses. A big man with a big voice, Moses has performed on Broadway, and at Goodspeed several years ago did a terrific turn as the lead in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Stone is aided by Oolie, his loyal secretary, a very good Sierra Rein, taking over for Nancy Anderson at the performance I attended. Stone gets himself in deep trouble by accepting wealthy socialite Alaura Kingsley’s case of her “bad” missing step-daughter, Mallory, a sexy Kathleen Rooney. Kingsley, whose much-older husband is in an iron lung, is strutted by Liz Pearce; swathed in white and fur she is the epitome of the wanton wife, who is not telling the truth.
On the movie side, brightly lit by John Lastier with Shawn Boyle’s cheerful palm tree projections that create the California vibe, is Stine as the seemingly likeable D.B. Bonds. He’s married to brown-haired Gabby, the perfect Laurie Wells who in a red wig also portrays the chanteuse Bobbi, Stone’s first love. Stine loves his wife, but cheats on her with Donna, assistant to Buddy Fidler, the producer of his film, City of Angels. Jay Russell fully embodies , this sleazy producer, who keeps chopping up Stine’s writing as summed up in his song, “The Buddy System.” Danny Bolero is fabulous as Munoz, a Latino cop, in the number, “All You Have to Do Is Wait.”
“You’re Nothing Without Me,” a duet of Stine and Stone, is the show's best song and the most amusing scene is when Stine’s typing changes the behavior of the characters — every tap of the keys rewinding and fast-forwarding the action. With the help of choreographer Jennifer Paulson Lee, the cast moves brilliantly to the words being changed.
City of Angels is enoyable enough so that if time permitted, I’d revisit it while it's at the Godspeed.
City of Angels
Book/ Larry Gelbart
Director: Darko Tresnjak
Vocal arrangements by Cy Coleman and Yaron Gershovsy
Cast: Burke Moses (Stone), Spencer Rowe (Studio Cop), Robert J. Townsend
(Orderlies), Sierra Rein, substituting for Nancy Anderson, (Oolie & Donna), Liz Pearce (Alaura Kingsley /Carla Haywood), Jerry Gallagher (Big Six, a big thug), Spencer Rowe (Sonny, a small thug/ Yamato, the coroner), Jeffrey David Sears (Jimmy Powers), Mick Bleyer (Commissioner Gaines), Adam West Hemming, Vanessa Parvin, Becca Pesce (Hairdresser/ Margie, a madam) (Angel City Four), Danny Bolero (Munoz / Pancho), Josh Powell (Officer Pasco/ Del Dacosta/Gene/ Butler), Laurie Wells (Bobbi/ Gabby), Jay Russell (Buddy Fidler/Irwin S. Irving), Allen E. Read ( Peter Kingsley/Gerald Pierce), Christina Morrell (Margaret, a maid & Carla’s stand-in), Gregor Paslawsky (Luther/ Werner), Michael Keyloun (Dr. Mandril/Gilbert/Party Guest/Buddy’s Nephew) Kathleen Rooney (Mallory/Avril), Robert J. Townsend ( Mahoney, a reporter/ sound engineer), Jerry Gallagher (Studio Cop).
Choreography: Jennifer Paulson Lee
Setw: David P. Gordon
Costumes: Tracy Christensen
Lights: John Lasiter
Sound: Jay Hilton
Projections: Shawn Boyle
Hair & Wigs: David H. Laawrence
Fight Director: Ron Piretti
Orchestrations: Dan Delange
Music Direction: Michael O’Flaherty
2 hours and 30 minutes
Goodspeed Opera House
East Haddam, Ct. 06423-0281
From 9/23/11 to 11/27/11
Reviewed by Rosalind Friedman October 22nd press matinee
Prologue/Angel City Four
Double Talk/Stone, Alaura
What You Don’t Know About Women/Gabby, Oolie
You Gotta Look Out for Yourself/Jimmy Powers, Angel City Four
The Buddy Sytem/Buddy
With Every Breath I Take/Bobbi
The Tennis Song/Stone, Alaura
Everybody’s Gotta Be Somewhere/Stone, Angel City Four
Lost & Found/Mallory
All You Have to Do is Wait/Munoz, Yamato, Pasco, Mahoney
You’re Nothing Without Me/Stine, Stone
- Stay With Me/Jimmy Powers, Angel City four
You Can Always Count On Me/Donna
Double Talk/Buddy, Guests
It Needs Work/Gabby
With Every Breath I Take/Stone, Bobbi
I’m Nothing Without You/Stine
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