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 an homage to the film noir genre of motion pictures that rose to prominence in the 1940s.

Productions[edit]

Broadway

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]

Off-Broadway

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]

Synopsis[edit]

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.


Plot[edit]

Act I

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, one 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 poignancy 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. We see Bobbi 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 of 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 and snaps a picture of him with Mallory. 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 swinging big-band accompaniment, (You're Nothing Without Me).


Act II

Act II opens in a recording studio, where Jimmy Powers and the Angel City 4 are singing (Stay With Me), which then becomes a record playing in a bedroom that 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 (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 reconsider killing off Mallory near the end. He says he'll think about it.

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 and he learns that his lover, Donna, has 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.

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

London 2014/15 cast and characters[edit]

Actor Hollywood Movie
Hadley Fraser Stine N/A
Tam Mutu N/A Stone
Peter Polycarpou Buddy Fidler Irwin S. Irving
Marc Elliott Pancho Vargas Munoz
Rebecca Trehearn Donna Oolie
Katherine Kelly Carla Haywood Alaura Kingsley
Rosalie Craig Gabby Bobbi
Samantha Barks Avril Mallory
Tim Walton Jimmy Powers Dr. Mandril
Nick Cavaliere N/A Sonny
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)

Characters[edit]

Hollywood Cast

  • Stine- The author of the novel, City of Angels, which he is adapting into a film.
  • 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. (The actress playing Gabby also plays Bobbi.)
  • Donna- Buddy's secretary. She has a brief affair with Stine, which leads to the end of his marriage with Gabby. However, she is far more manipulative than she appears. (The actress playing Oolie 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.)
  • Pancho Vargas- the actor playing Munoz in the film.
  • Gerald Pierce - the actor playing Peter Kingsley in the film.
  • Werner Kriegler - The actor playing Luther Kingsley in the film.
  • Jimmy Powers- a popular singer, who appears in both the Hollywood scenes and in the fictional movie scenes. In the real world, Powers is having an affair with Carla.
  • The Angel City 4 - Jimmy Powers' back-up singers, a close-harmony quartet who serve as a Greek chorus in the film world.
  • Two Studio Guards - (Played by the same actors who play Sonny and Big Six)

Movie Cast

  • Stone- An ex-cop turned private detective, the hero of Stine's novel. The classic hard-boiled detective, who is hired to find Mallory Kingsley. Tough, wisecracking and quick-witted.
  • 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.)
  • Bobbi- Stone's former girlfriend, A nightclub singer based directly on Stine's wife Gabby. (The actress playing Gabby also plays Bobbi.)
  • Oolie- Stone's loyal Girl Friday. Unrequitedly in love with Stone, she goes to great lengths to protect and aid him. (The actress playing Ollie also plays Donna.)
  • Mallory Kingsley- Alaura's beautiful, seductive step-daughter, whom Stone is hired to find. (The actress playing Mallory also plays Avril.)
  • Detective Munoz- Stone's former partner, now a bitter rival. He believes that Stone repeatedly antagonizes him. His hatred of Stone has a racial element that Buddy Fiddler demands be deleted from the screenplay. (The actor playing Munoz also plays Pancho.)
  • Irwin S Irving- a Hollywood mogul Stone catches in bed with Bobbi. Inspired by Buddy. (The actor playing Irwin also plays Buddy.)
  • Dr Mandrill- A quack doctor hired by Alaura to care for Luther. He is later killed, seemingly by Peter, but really by Alaura.
  • Luther Kingsley- Alaura's husband, Mallory and Peter's father. He is suffering from polio and encased in an iron lung. He dotes on 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.
  • Jimmy Powers- a popular singer, who appears in both the Hollywood scenes and in the fictional movie scenes. In the real world, Powers is having an affair with Carla.
  • The Angel City 4 - Jimmy Powers' back-up singers, a close-harmony quartet who serve as a Greek chorus in the film world.

Recordings[edit]

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


London revival[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2015 Laurence Olivier Award Best Musical Revival Won
Best Director Josie Rourke Nominated
Best Set Design Robert Jones Nominated
Best Costume Design Nominated
Best Lighting Design Howard Harrison Won

Notes[edit]

  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. talkinbroadway.com, January 29, 2006.
  8. ^ City of Angels Original Broadway Cast listing", amazon.com, accessed November 28, 2008
  9. ^ City of Angels Original London Cast listing", amazon.com, accessed November 28, 2008

References[edit]

External links[edit]