City of Angels (musical)

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City of Angels
Coa playbill.jpg
Original Broadway Playbill
Music Cy Coleman
Lyrics David Zippel
Book Larry Gelbart
Productions 1989 Broadway
1993 West End
2014 West End Revival
Awards Tony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Book
Tony Award for Best Score
Olivier Award for Best New Musical

City of Angels is a musical comedy with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by David Zippel, and book by Larry Gelbart. The musical weaves together two plots, the "real" world of a writer trying to turn his book into a screenplay, and the "reel" world of the fictional film. The musical is a homage to the film noir genre of motion pictures that rose to prominence in the 1940s.



City of Angels opened on Broadway at the Virginia Theatre on December 11, 1989 and closed on January 19, 1992 after 879 performances and 24 previews. It was directed by Michael Blakemore with sets designed by Robin Wagner, costumes by Florence Klotz and lighting by Paul Gallo.

While the show continued on Broadway, the Los Angeles company opened in June 1991 at the Shubert Theater in Century City, running six months, with Stephen Bogardus as Stine, Lauren Mitchell as the villainess, and Randy Graff and James Naughton recreating their original roles. The production was revamped and embarked on a national tour, during which Barry Williams, of The Brady Bunch fame, took over the role of Stone. Jordan Leeds was chosen from the tour's ensemble to play Stine. The tour played venues from the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa, Florida in February 1992 [1] to the National Theatre, Washington, DC in June 1992[2] to the Crouse-Hinds Concert Theatre, Syracuse, New York, in November 1992.[3] The national tour closed in November 1992, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

West End

The musical opened in London's West End at the Prince of Wales Theatre in March 1993 and ran until November 13, 1993. Blakemore again directed with Roger Allam as Stone and Martin Smith as Stine, with Henry Goodman as Buddy Fidler.[4][5] The production was nominated for five Laurence Olivier Awards, winning the award for Best New Musical.

The first West End revival of the musical was staged at the Donmar Warehouse in December 2014, running until February 2015. Directed by the Donmar Warehouse's artistic director Josie Rourke, the ensemble cast included Hadley Fraser as Stine, Tam Mutu as Stone, Rosalie Craig as Gabbi/Bobbi, Katherine Kelly as Alura/Carla and Samantha Barks as Mallory/Avril.[6]


The theatre company Reprise! Broadway's Best production ran in January–February 2006 at Freud Playhouse, UCLA, Los Angeles. The cast featured Burke Moses (Stone), Vicki Lewis (Oolie), Tami Tappan Damiano (Gabby), and Stephen Bogardus (Stine).[7]


Act I

The setting is Hollywood in the late 1940s, with two stories occurring simultaneously: a Hollywood comedy and a detective drama. The real-life scenes are in color and the movie scenes in black and white. Costumes and setting reflect the reality vs. film.[7]

Alaura Kingsley, a striking socialite, is ushered into detective Stone's office by Oolie, his loyal Girl Friday. Alaura hires him to find her stepdaughter Mallory Kingsley, a beautiful "bad" girl, who will later turn up in Stone's office. Stone receives a brutal beating from two thugs and is framed for a murder. As the plot thickens, Stone's own past comes to haunt him. The relatively simple missing daughter case turns complicated and may end up costing Stone his life. It keeps getting more and more complicated, possibly because the author keeps rewriting it.

The author, Stine, is a novelist adapting his novel, City of Angels, into a screenplay for movie mogul Buddy Fidler. Buddy, a charismatic and autocratic producer-director, has an immense ego and, although he claims to be a fan of Stine's work, he continually demands rewrites from the increasingly reluctant Stine. As Stine struggles to keep both his job and his novel's integrity, his wife Gabby disapproves of his womanizing and leaves for New York on a business trip. Shortly afterwards, he begins an affair with Buddy's secretary Donna. Gabby discovers this and leaves him.

When Stine fulfills Buddy's request to remove a racially-motivated plotline from the screenplay, Stone himself grows frustrated with his author's lack of integrity and berates him for it. Creator and creation have an argument, which Stine wins by typing a scene where the detective is beaten up.

Act II

Stine flies to New York in an unsuccessful attempt to reconcile with Gabby, earning Buddy's ire. When he returns, he discovers that Buddy has drastically rewritten the film's ending to his own satisfaction and given himself a prominent co-writing credit. Stine appears on set for the first day of filming to confront the unrepentant Fidler and discovers, to his shock, that a popular crooner has been cast as his hard-boiled detective. With Stone himself at his side, Stine rips up the script and quits. He is about to be beaten by two studio guards, when, in a reversal on their earlier confrontation, Stone aids him by typing a scene allowing Stine to defeat the guards and win back both his wife and his self-respect.

Apart from Stine and Stone, the actors portraying the characters in Stine's movie double as the Hollywood executives and actors Stine encounters.

Musical numbers[edit]

Broadway cast and characters[edit]

Actor Hollywood Movie
Gregg Edelman Stine N/A
James Naughton N/A Stone
René Auberjonois Buddy Fidler Irwin S. Irving
Shawn Elliott Pancho Vargas Munoz
Randy Graff Donna Oolie
Dee Hoty Carla Haywood Alaura Kingsley
Kay McClelland Gabby Bobbi
Rachel York Avril Mallory
James Cahill Barber Dr. Mandril
Carolee Carmello Stand-In Margaret


There are recordings of the original Broadway cast on Sony (ASIN: B00000272K), released on February 9, 1990,[8] and the London original cast on RCA (ASIN: B000003FN9), released October 12, 1993 [9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1990 Tony Award Best Musical Won
Best Book of a Musical Larry Gelbart Won
Best Original Score Cy Coleman and David Zippel Won
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical James Naughton Won
Gregg Edelman Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical René Auberjonois Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Randy Graff Won
Best Direction of a Musical Michael Blakemore Nominated
Best Scenic Design Robin Wagner Won
Best Costume Design Florence Klotz Nominated
Best Lighting Design Paul Gallo Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Won
Outstanding Book of a Musical Larry Gelbart Won
Outstanding Actor in a Musical James Naughton Won
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical René Auberjonois Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Randy Graff Won
Outstanding Director of a Musical Michael Blakemore Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Billy Byers Won
Outstanding Lyrics David Zippel Won
Outstanding Music Cy Coleman Won
Outstanding Set Design Robin Wagner Won
Outstanding Costume Design Florence Klotz Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design Paul Gallo Nominated
Edgar Allan Poe Award Best Play Larry Gelbart Won

Original London production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1994 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Won
Best Actor in a Musical Roger Allam Nominated
Best Actress in a Musical Haydn Gwynne Nominated
Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical Henry Goodman Nominated
Best Director of a Musical Michael Blakemore Nominated


  1. ^ Fleming, John. "Angels' gets its wings from music", St. Petersburg Times (Florida), February 16, 1992, p. 1F
  2. ^ Rose, Lloyd. "Witty 'City Of Angels", The Washington Post, June 12, 1992, p. C1
  3. ^ Vadeboncoeur, Joan. "Witty 'City of Angels' Arrives", The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), November 3, 1992 (no page number
  4. ^ The Guardian (London), Michael Billington, p. 7, April 1, 1993
  5. ^ The Globe and Mail (Canada), October 18, 1993
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ a b Perlmutter, Sharon. "Review, 'City of Angels', 2006., January 29, 2006.
  8. ^ City of Angels Original Broadway Cast listing",, accessed November 28, 2008
  9. ^ City of Angels Original London Cast listing",, accessed November 28, 2008


External links[edit]