CITY OF ANGELS - Film Noir Musical Doesn't Catch Fire

Bob and Karen Isaacs

BOB: City of Angels which is now at Goodspeed through Nov. 27 is one of those musicals that, at least to me, should be better than it is.


KAREN: I agree - it is a very clever idea that is executed in an interesting manner - yet, even when we saw the original cast in New York, it left me a little cool.


BOB: The idea of the plot is fascinating. The book by Larry Gelbart juxtaposes the story of a writer trying to write the movie adaptation of his best selling detective novel, the behind-the scenes film studio machinations and the actual film mystery.


KAREN: We have two heroes - Stine, the writer whose work is constantly being “improved” by the producer, and Stone, his detective character.


BOB: It tries to tell a film noir mystery but I found it rather boring. The mystery is such a jumble that you totally lose all track of it.


KAREN: The mystery is almost a spoof of the film noir of the 40s. But the mystery is so interspersed with the other plot that you do get confused.


BOB: What is very clever about this show is the setting. All the scenes that are in the film are in black and white - the costumes, the backdrop, the set. All the scenes in Hollywood or real life are in color.


KAREN: I also liked that except for Burke Moses who plays the detective Stone and D. B. Bonds who plays Stine, all the other performers play two roles - a role in the film and a role in real life.


BOB: Cy Coleman wrote the music and David Zippel the lyrics. And Coleman also worked on the vocal arrangements. There is a real 40s jazz feel to the score.


KAREN: I thought the choreography was also very good - a lot of slow motion movement in the film scenes.


BOB: But despite all the positives, this show just doesn’t get going.


KAREN: I agree - maybe it is the cool jazz score or the film noir style, but you don’t really get involved in the characters or the plot. In this production, the show did not seem to really pick up energy until near the end of the first act, with the numbers “All You Have to Do Is Wait” and “You’re Nothing without Me.”


BOB I think some of the blame has to be laid at the feet of director Darko Tresnjak


KAREN: If you love the film noir genre and enjoy a cool, jazzy score, you will like City of Angels. I really liked Burke Moses as Stone, and Nancy Anderson as both Stone’s secretary and the producer’s secretary.


BOB: City of Angels is running through November 27.


This review was aired on WHNHU 88.7 FM and through November 25.


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