CITY OF ANGELS at Laban theatre
It’s impossible to come out of Trinity Laban musical theatre department’s epic production of the Broadway hit City Of Angels without being filled with admiration for the performers’ skill, energy, enthusiasm and sheer chutzpah.
It helps that the show is built around Larry Gelbert’s wonderfully clever plot parodying Bogart-and-Bacall noir movies and has, thanks to David Zippel, some of the best and funniest lyrics about death, double-dealing and dames imaginable.
But with a run-time of almost three hours (including a break) Cy Coleman’s score needed a flood of showstopping songs such as those he wrote for Sweet Charity – and frankly there was nothing to match the likes of Big Spender and If My Friends Could See Me Now which TL students had performed so brilliantly back in the summer.
That didn’t, however, stop me enjoying City Of Angels at Laban theatre because the cast, directed by Karen Rabinowitz, and musical director Mark Smith’s 10-piece live band, gave it everything they’d got and made for an evening of unalloyed delight.
The singers and dancers filled Stewart J Charlesworth’s cleverly designed stage with bustle and brio, revelling in a plot that required half the action to be in black and white and half in glorious Hollywood technicolor.
On the night I saw it, there were standout turns by Joseph Heron as Humphrey Bogart-inspired private eye Stone, Samuel Daltry as screenwriter Stine, James Dodd in the dual roles of movie mogul
Irwin S Irving and noir director Buddy Fidler, Zoë Beardsall as a fast-talking Lauren Bacall-style femme fatale and Mollie Kate Angus as secretary Donna who gets – and really nailed – the show’s best tune, You Can Always Count On Me.
For the record, different actors played the star parts at other performances of the five-day run.
The show closed in traditional Broadway style with a happy ending and the entire cast on stage to sing the final song, a storming rendition of I’m Nothing Without You.
As I’ve already hinted, I can’t say I cared much for the score. But the rest of it – the cast, musicians, set, plot and lyrics – is to die for. Which is exactly what a show about blackmail and murder should be.