City of Angels (musical)
|City of Angels|
Original Broadway Playbill
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  to the National Theatre, Washington, DC in June 1992 to the Crouse-Hinds Concert Theatre, Syracuse, New York, in November 1992. 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. 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
As the curtain rises, Stone lies on a hospital gurney with a bullet in his shoulder and a lot on his mind. A tough private eye in the tradition of Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade, Stone also suffers from a bruised heart (owing to a weakness for beautiful women) and an empty wallet, as he's too moral to take dishonest jobs.
Stone flashes back to a week earlier, when his secretary-with-a-heart-of-gold, Oolie, ushered in a rich, beautiful woman named Alaura. Alaura claims she wants Stone to find her missing stepdaughter; against his better judgment he takes the case. And just as we're becoming intrigued...
A man at a typewriter appears on stage, and the actors are suddenly backing up, "rewinding," and playing the scene with a few changes. The man, we discover, is Stine, author of popular detective novels starring Stone, on of which he is now adapting for his first screenplay. What we've seen comes straight from his imagination.
Like Stone, Stine has a weakness for women, but fewer scruples when it comes to money. At the moment, the money is coming from Buddy Fidler, Hollywood mogul and master puppeteer of creative people. Something's telling Stine to watch out, but for now, he's just enjoying the ride (Double Talk).
Back at Stine's hotel room, we learn that the misgivings come mostly from his wife, Gabby, who wishes Stine would stick to novels. He won't listen, though, any more than Stone will, and we begin to see the interplay between "reality" and fiction as Gabby and Oolie lament (What You Don't Know About Women).
The Mystery resumes, with Stone, alone in his dreary bungalow, listening to crooner Jimmy Powers and the Angel City 4 brightly telling their radio audience, (You Gotta Look Out For Yourself) - which takes on a certain poignance when two hoods break down his door and beat him up.
Cut to Buddy reading this scene in the screenplay: we see that his secretary, Donna, is the model for Oolie, and that Buddy can't help "fiddling" with everything (The Buddy System).
And Back to Stone, out cold, being rudely awakened by LAPD Lt. Munoz, who was Stone's partner on the force but now bears him a major grudge. Stone, it seems, loved a low-rent lounge singer named Bobbi, whom Stine based on Gabby, whom we see performing a torchy ballad (With Every Breath I Take). But Bobbi wanted stardom more than marriage, and when Stone caught her with a Hollywood producer, based on course on Buddy. Tempers flared, a gun went off, and the producer was dead of a "heart attack" caused by two bullets. Munoz has never forgiven Stone for "getting away" with the murder, and would gladly nail him for jaywalking.
Stone, Angry about the beating, confronts Alaura at her mansion and meets several more unsavory characters, including her lustful stepson, her war-profiteer husband, who is an elderly man stricken with polio and encased in an iron lung, and the quack spiritualist who attends him. Greed and malice hover like smog, but Alaura's considerable charms and bankroll keep Stone on the case (The Tennis Song).
Stone fruitlessly pursues the "missing" stepdaughter, Mallory (Ev'rybody's Gotta Be Somewhere), in a scene that recalls a film montage, only to find her waiting naked in his bed (Lost And Found). Stone somehow manages to resist temptation....
Which is more than can be said for his creator. His wife having returned to New York, Stine takes comfort in Donna's bed, although not without some guilt. but this is Hollywood, after all, where no one's motives are pure...
As Stone quickly learns, when a photographer breaks in, snaps him with Mallory, and she runs off with his gun, which is used to murder the quack. Stone finds himself framed for the killing and gleefully arrested by Munoz (All You Have To Do Is Wait).
Not that Stine is having such a great time, either. Buddy is butchering his script, his conscience is nagging, and Stone, his own creation, is disgusted with him. The curtain falls with each of them arguing, to a swingin big-band accompaniment, You're Nothing Without Me.
Act II opens in a recording studio, where Jimmy Powers and the Angel City 4 are waxing Stay With Me, which then becomes a record playing in a bedroom. It looks like Alaura's, but proves to belong to Carla Haywood, Buddy's wife, who'll play Alaura in the movie.
Stone, meanwhile, languishes in jail, attended only by Oolie, who like her alter ego, Donna, is feeling used by men (You Can Always Count On Me). Stone is mysteriously bailed out, but the two hoods catch up with him and nearly blow him up before he neatly turns the tables.
Stine has troubles of his own. Lonely at a lavish Hollywood party of Buddy's sycophants, including a typical Hollywood composer (the lush Alaura's Theme), Stine calls home only to find that Gabby has discovered his affair with Donna. He flies to New York with an elaborately prepared excuse, but she's not buying it (It Needs Work).
Stone, fighting now to clear his name, is led to a brothel (LA Blues) where he is stunned to find Bobbi. We learn it was she who shot the producer; Stone has been covering for her all this time. Together, they face the wreckage of their love (With Every Breath I Take).
In Hollywood, Stine is approached by the young starlet, Avril, who will be playing Mallory. She begs him to reconsidder killing off Mallory near the end. He says he'll considder.
Oolie, meanwhile, has made her own discovery: Alaura is a fortune hunter who has already murdered one rich husband and planned to do away with this one, once she had eliminated his son, daughter, and doctor. She tried to get her son, Peter, to kill the doctor, but he couldn't bring himself to kill. He enters with Mallory, who he was supposed to kill. Stone confronts her at the mansion; they grapple for her gun; shots ring out...and Alaura falls dead, Stone's gravely wounded, and we're back where we started.
But where does that leave Stine? His wife has rejected him, his lover, Donna, has (he learns) also been rewriting his script; Stine faces the collapse of his real and fictive worlds, and as his emotions take over, his wit turns bitter (Funny).
When he arrives on the movie set to find that Buddy's name appears above his on the screenplay, and that the shallow crooner Jimmy Powers will play Stone, Stine boils over. With the "real" Stone, his conscience, finally leading him to make the right choice, he rages at Buddy, gets himself fired, and is about to be pounded by two security guards when - in the imagination all things are possible - Stone somehow appears at Stine's typewriter and writes him the fighting skills of a superhero, then tacks on a "Hollywood ending" in which Gabby returns, forgiving all. Together they celebrate (I'm Nothing Without You) as the curtain falls.
Broadway cast and characters
|René Auberjonois||Buddy Fidler||Irwin S. Irving|
|Shawn Elliott||Pancho Vargas||Munoz|
|Dee Hoty||Carla Haywood||Alaura Kingsley|
|James Cahill||Barber||Dr. Mandril|
London 2014/15 cast and characters
|Peter Polycarpou||Buddy Fidler||Irwin S. Irving|
|Marc Elliott||Pancho Vargas||Munoz|
|Katherine Kelly||Carla Haywood||Alaura Kingsley|
|Tim Walton||Jimmy Powers||Dr. Mandril|
|Adam Fogerty||N/A||Big Six|
|Cameron Cuffe||N/A||Peter Kingsley|
|Mark Penfold||N/A||Luther Kingsley|
|Sandra Marvin||N/A||Angel City Four (Soprano)|
|Jennifer Saayeng||N/A||Angel City Four (Alto)|
|Kadiff Kirwan||N/A||Angel City Four (Tenor)|
|Jo Servi||N/A||Angel City Four (Bass)|
Stine- The author of the novel, City of Angels, which he is adapting into a film.
Stone- A private detective, the hero of Stine's novel. A classic film noir detective who was hired to
Gabby- Stine's wife. She is tired of his obsession with work and his unfaithfulness. She loves him, but eventually leaves him when she learns about his affair with Donna. She was (The actress playing Gabby also plays Bobbi.)
Donna- Buddy's secretary. She has a brief affair with Stine, but helps him realize how much he loves Gabby. She is the inspiration for Oolie. It turns out, however, that she is rewriting his script behind his back. (The actress playing Ollie also plays Donna.)
Carla Haywood- Buddy's wife, who will be playing Alaura in the film. She is having an affair with Jimmy Powers. (The actress playing Carla also plays Alaura.)
Avril- a young Hollywood starlet who will be playing Mallory in the film. She is having an affair with Buddy. (The actress playing Avril also plays Mallory.)
Buddy- The film producer. He is changing the integrity of the novel. He is married to Carla and having an affair with Avril. (The actor playing Buddy also plays Irwin.)
Paches- the actor playing Munoz in the film. (The actor playing Munoz also plays Paches.)
Jim Powers- a popular singer, who Buddy hired to play Stone in the film. Stine is incensed. Powers is having an affair with Carla. He sings with his band, the Angel City Four. (The actor playing Powers also plays Dr Mandrill.)
Bobbi- Stone's former girlfriend. A nightclub singer. She killed Irwing at the club, but he took the blame and they never saw each other again. When looking for Peter Kingsley at a brothel, he finds her working as a prostitute. They both still love each other, but it is too late for them. She was inspired by Gabby. (The actress playing Gabby also plays Bobbi.)
Oolie- Stone's loyal Girl Friday. She is in love with him, but he doesn't think of her that way.
Alaura Kingsley- a femme fatale trophy wife. She comes to Stone to have him find her missing step-daughter, but, it turns out that this is all a plot for Alaura to kill her step-children to take her soon-to-be late husband's money. She and Stone have a brief affair. She is shot and killed in a struggle with Stone. (The actress playing Alaura also plays Carla.)
Mallory Kingsley- the beautiful 'bad girl', step daughter of Alaura, who Stone was hired to find. She died in an early draft of the script and in the novel, but this was rewritten for the film. (The actress playing Mallory also plays Avril.)
Munoz- the police detective who hates Stone. He believes that Stone got away with killing Irwin and would do anything to arrest him. (The actor playing Munoz also plays Paches.)
Irwin S Irving- an important townsperson who was killed at Bobbi's club. Inspired by Buddy. (The actor playing Irwin also plays Buddy.)
Dr Mandrill- the spiritual doctor hired by Alaura to care for Luther. He is later killed, seemingly by Peter, but really by Alaura. (The actress playing Mandrill also plays Powers.)
Luther Kingsley- Alaura's husband, Mallory and Peter's father. He is suffering from polio and encased in an iron lung. He dotes of Mallory.
Peter Kingsley- Luther's son and Mallory's brother. He and Alaura concoct a scheme to kill Dr Mandrill, Luther, and Mallory to take all of the inheritance. He, however, cannot bring himself to kill, turning on Alaura.
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
Original London production
|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|
- Fleming, John. "Angels' gets its wings from music", St. Petersburg Times (Florida), February 16, 1992, p. 1F
- Rose, Lloyd. "Witty 'City Of Angels", The Washington Post, June 12, 1992, p. C1
- Vadeboncoeur, Joan. "Witty 'City of Angels' Arrives", The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), November 3, 1992 (no page number
- The Guardian (London), Michael Billington, p. 7, April 1, 1993
- The Globe and Mail (Canada), October 18, 1993
- Perlmutter, Sharon. "Review, 'City of Angels', 2006. talkinbroadway.com, January 29, 2006.
- City of Angels Original Broadway Cast listing", amazon.com, accessed November 28, 2008
- City of Angels Original London Cast listing", amazon.com, accessed November 28, 2008
- Tupac, Kerianne M. "Film Noir Meets the Musical in "City of Angels"". Retrieved June 12, 2005.
- City of Angels at the Internet Broadway Database
- Plot, production information at guidetomusicaltheatre.com
- Information from Tams-Witmark
- The New York Times review, Frank Rich, December 12, 1989