Sunday, September 18, 2016

musical theatre review

To South Bay Musical Theatre this afternoon for Cy Coleman's City of Angels, a show I knew nothing about, but we subscribed this year and it's on the season. It's about a 1940s Hollywood screenwriter who's writing a film noir, which is taking place on the other half of the stage as he writes it, its actors lit by a sickly green light so their skin looks as black-and-white as their clothing is. The show becomes something of a fantasy when the P.I. protagonist of the film starts arguing with his creator, shades of Asimov's "Author, Author" (and, actually, a number of other stories).

It's probably not that great a show, though the book is by Larry Gelbart which meant at least that the story wasn't boring, but the music was not all that much to my taste. A number of the songs in the film scenes are diegetic and partake of the pop song style of that time, which I really don't care for. The best number by far was "You Can Always Count On Me," a song that echoes some of the bawdy swing of "Big Spender," which is almost the only other Coleman song I know. This mourn of the lovelorn woman was belted out energetically and on-pitch by Glenna Murillo, who gave the same pizzazz to the rather similar role of Marie in Fiorello! here a few years ago. I also enjoyed "All You Have To Do Is Wait," sung by a Hispanic police detective in the film, while at the morgue investigating a murder, in a lively quasi-Hispanic style while doctors, cops, and reporters dance flamboyantly behind him. The incongruity of this was the funniest thing in the show.

The acting ranged up the scale to adequate; so did the singing. The actor playing the P.I. looked like Nicolas Cage and talked like a low-rent Bogart. The orchestra was too large and too loud for the small venue. The question I would like to ask the choreographer is, "Had jazz hands been invented in the 1940s?"

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