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Folk and Blues
City of Angels
Book by Larry Gelbart,  Music by Cy Coleman,  Lyrics by David Zippel
The Mitre Theatre, Croydon
February 2015
Directed by Helen Harries-Rees
Musical Director: Robert Randall
Choreographer: Tonia Porter

 

CLICK HERE tto view Marcus Ascott's Show Photographs

 
Click HERE to download a .pdf of the programme.

 


 

Review, as sent to Croydon Advertiser.

(Not published)

 

City of Angels, Mitre Players, South Croydon

 

Reviewed by Theo Spring

 

With its parallel story and music with some difficult time signatures, City of Angels is a demanding enough show for the professional theatre but, undaunted, director Helen Harries-Rees and her stirling cast presented it to huge audience acclaim.


Recently performed at the Donmar Warehouse, Mitre were very fortunate to obtain the amateur rights. Set in Los Angeles in the 1940s the story revolves around the writing and playing out of a detective film script where both the action of the film and the vicissitudes involved in the creation of said script are staged.

 
The action moves backwards and forwards in the story with some actual ‘rewinding’ both by verbal gobbledegook and reversing of moves but acknowledging the complicated plot,  costumes for the film scenes were black and white and the programme gave both a helpful synopsis and colour co-ordinated the scenes between making the film and the film itself.


Rowan Dixon stars as Stone, the private eye around whom the film story revolves and Peter St James is the film’s producer Buddy Fidler. He calls the shots trying to dictate the content of the script being written by Ziggi Szafranski as Stine and it is these three characters who mainly evolve this complicated tale.


Cast members double up, enacting out the film and in ‘real time’ Katy Reid is hither and thither as the caring and efficient secretary to both Stone as Oolie and Fiddler as Donna, and Chrissy Amer believably portrays both the femme fatale hooking Stone into the mystery of her missing daughter and Buddy’s wife Carla. Crossing the tale, Beci Sageman is this daughter who, as the starlet Avril, is able to beg the script writer to counter the instructions to kill her off. early in the film and write her a more sustained part.


Playing themselves throughout this dual plot and led by Jimmy Powers as ‘a real crooner’,  are the tuneful Angel City 7 - four ladies and three men whose evocative vocal numbers pop up throughout the show, either within the film or in ‘real time’.


Fraser Macdonald, stalwart of the Mitres, crossed from film as Lt Munoz of the police to the OTT actor Pancho Vargas playing him, and Karen Rapps, as Stine’s wife sings the memorable duet What You Don’t Know About Women, with Oolie - stretching the sentiment of the song across both tales.


The cast list is lengthy with some stirling cameo characters all of whom deserve high praise for knowing just who they were playing, in which costume and where and when they had to be on stage

.
The excellent and constantly changing set, including two large mobile stairways, required and got a 14-strong on-the-ball team backstage. Di Jones and Anna Warnock provided the many changing costumes. Choreography was in Tonia Porter’s safe hands and MD Robert Randall’s hands were never still as he conducted the 14 musicians whose music cues never seemed to cease.


To have the courage to embark on this huge undertaking may well have caused some sleepless nights, but what a triumph when it was more than ‘all right on the night’.