City of Angels
Music by Cy Coleman
Lyrics by David Zippel
Book by Larry Gelbart
Illustration and Graphic Design by David Zinn

April 14 at 7:30 PM
Apriul 15 & 16 at 8 PM
April 17 at 2 PM
Power Center


newsletter | press release | program | photographs



From our Newsletter
Film Noir Meets the Musical in "City of Angels"
"City of Angels" is the first hit Broadway musical to have a full-blown jazz score It was composed by the recently deceased Cy Coleman, author of such musical hits as "Barnum," "Sweet Charity," and "The Life." It is, he said, his most personal score in a theatrical songwriting career that spans three decades. "To put it brazenly, I wanted to do something that I think I'm uniquely qualified to do in the theater, which is to present real jazz as opposed to pastiche or the kind of choreographed jazz I've written for other shows. By real jazz I mean music whose rhythmic phrases you can't describe but that when you're snapping fingers to it, you say, 'This swings.'" Coleman's score is a rich melange of jazz and bebop patter styles, movie-type scoring, radio crooning, and parodies of standard songs.

If Coleman was uniquely qualified to write this score, Larry Gelbart of M*A*S*H fame was equally qualified to write the book. ""City of Angels" is an accumulation of having worked in motion pictures and television all of my life," stated Gelbart. "Two things triggered this play - growing up in the '30s and '40s with a love of movies and knowing something about how movies get written and rewritten - and the travails of screenwriters in the motion-picture industry. I was able to marry the two experiences."

"City of Angels" took eight years to complete. If the score for "City of Angels" was Coleman's most personal, it was also one of his most difficult to write. Coleman had approached Gelbart with the idea of writing a musical in the private-eye genre. Gelbart started to write a straight story about a private eye but soon found that he wasn't having any fun. Coleman was having his own difficulties - a private-eye yarn does not lend itself naturally to musical form, and it was a challenge to find places in the story where songs would fit. So Gelbart concocted the two stories - the Hollywood scriptwriter and the movie he's writing - which gave Coleman the opportunity to create not only a jazz score but also a movie score.

This double story plays out in "City of Angels" in parallel stories on stage. One portrays the battle of Stine, a mild-mannered writer struggling to prevent his screenplay-in-progress from being mutilated by a tyrannical producer, Buddy Fiddler. The other depicts the unfolding of the screenplay itself, in which Stine's alter ego, the detective Stone, sidles through a Hollywood netherworld of vicious thugs and femmes fatales. The juxtaposition of real life and "reel-life" occurs on a number of levels as Stine weaves the people around him into his characters on the big screen. As such, while Stine and Stone are played by different actors, almost every other actor in the musical portrays someone in both the real life and the "reel-life." The two stories are, in effect, happening simultaneously.

While this may sound confusing, sets and costumes help keep the two worlds separate. Stone's world is stylistically set in film noir with tones of black, grey and white. A style of American film that was popular in the late 1940s, film noir has a distinct visual signature - stark lighting, dark and gloomy appearances, and deep shadows. The earliest film noirs were detective thrillers, with plots and themes often taken from adaptations of literary works - preferably from best-selling, hard-boiled, pulp novels and crime fiction by Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain or Dashiell Hammett. Very often, a film noir story was developed around a male character who encountered a beautiful but promiscuous and seductive femme fatale who used her feminine wiles and sexuality to manipulate him into becoming a fall guy - often involving a murder. Film Noir is the sort of film Stine is trying to write - and not at all what Buddy Fiddler wants.

In contrast to the stark film noir setting of the film, Stine's world is set in glorious Technicolor. Livened by the glamour and decadence of 1940s Hollywood, the real life world sparkles, hiding the dangerous elements that threaten Stine's happiness as well as his film. He must fight off the increasingly meddling and condescending Buddy Fidler, and is left to do this alone after his wife Gabby returns to New York because she disapproves of Stine's behavior, both professionally and personally. To make matters worse, Stine is confronted by his alter ego, Stone, who is totally disgusted by Stine's willingness to sacrifice his principles.

Paired with some of the best double-talk and witty dialogue ever to hit the stage, "City of Angels" is filled with wonderful one-liners. Frank Rich of "The New York Times" declared "This is an evening in which even a throwaway wisecrack spreads laughter like wildfire through the house, until finally the roars from the balcony merge with those from the orchestra and the pandemonium takes on a life of its own. Only the fear of missing the next gag quiets the audience down. To make matters sweeter, the jokes sometimes subside just long enough to permit a show-stopping song or performance or two to make their own ruckus at center stage."

Unfortunately, the complexities of presenting the simultaneous double stories keeps "City of Angels" from getting produced with regularity. Our production will be a rare treat. I cannot wait to see this incredible musical realized on the Power Center stage with the talented students of the Musical Theatre Department.

- Kerianne Tupac, Marketing Director, U-Prod




Press Release
FILM NOIR MEETS THE MUSICAL AS THE UM MUSICAL THEATRE DEPARTMENT PRESENTS "CITY OF ANGELS"
Ann Arbor  The UM Musical Theatre Department closes out the School of Music mainstage season with "City of Angels," a deliciously funny spoof of 1940s film noir and hard-boiled detective fiction. Featuring a jazz score by late Broadway composer Cy Coleman, "City of Angels" plays at the Power Center for the Performing Arts on April 14 at 7:30PM, April 15 & 16 at 8PM and April 17 at 2PM. Asst. professor Mark Madama directs this movie-within-a-play-within-a- musical.

"City of Angels" follows Stine, a Hollywood scriptwriter and the movie he's writing, a double story that plays out in parallel stories on stage. One portrays the battle of Stine, a mild-mannered writer struggling to prevent his screenplay-in-progress from being mutilated by a tyrannical producer, Buddy Fiddler. The other depicts the unfolding of the screenplay itself, in which Stine's alter ego, the detective Stone, sidles through a Hollywood netherworld of vicious thugs and femmes fatales. The juxtaposition of real life and "reel-life" occurs on a number of levels as Stine weaves the people around him into his characters on the big screen. As such, while different actors play Stine and Stone, almost every other actor in the musical portrays someone in both the real life and the "reel-life." The two stories are, in effect, happening simultaneously.

Sets and costumes help keep the two worlds separate. Stone's world is stylistically set in film noir with tones of black, grey and white. A style of American film that was popular in the late 1940s, film noir has a distinct visual signature - stark lighting, dark and gloomy appearances, and deep shadows. In contrast to the stark film noir setting of the film, Stine's world is set in Technicolor.

"City of Angels" won six Tony awards in 1989 including best musical, score, and book. Composer Cy Coleman ("Sweet Charity," "Barnum") drew on his jazz background to create the first full-blown jazz score for the Broadway stage. It is, he said, his most personal score in a theatrical songwriting career that spanned three decades. "To put it brazenly, I wanted to do something that I think I'm uniquely qualified to do in the theater, which is to present real jazz as opposed to pastiche or the kind of choreographed jazz I've written for other shows. By real jazz I mean music whose rhythmic phrases you can't describe but when you're snapping fingers to it, you say, 'This swings.'" Coleman's score is a melange of jazz and bebop patter styles, movie-type scoring, radio crooning, and parodies of standard songs.

Coleman's score is paired with some of the best double-talk and witty dialogue ever to hit the stage. The musical features a book by Larry Gelbart of M*A*S*H fame and lyrics by David Zippel. ""City of Angels" is an accumulation of having worked in motion pictures and television all of my life," stated Gelbart. "Two things triggered this play - growing up in the '30s and '40s with a love of movies and knowing something about how movies get written and rewritten - and the travails of screenwriters in the motion-picture industry. I was able to marry the two experiences." Frank Rich of "The New York Times" declared "This is an evening in which even a throwaway wisecrack spreads laughter like wildfire through the house, until finally the roars from the balcony merge with those from the orchestra and the pandemonium takes on a life of its own. Only the fear of missing the next gag quiets the audience down. To make matters sweeter, the jokes sometimes subside just long enough to permit a show-stopping song or performance or two to make their own ruckus at center stage."

Joining Madama on the artistic team is Cynthia Kortman Westphal as Musical Director. Bruce Brockman, chair of the Theatre Department at Oklahoma State University, joins the production as guest scenic designer. Jessica Hahn, assoc. professor in the Dept. of Theatre and Drama, whose designs were last seen in "The Rover," designs costumes. Mark Allen Berg, whose designs were last seen in "Oklahoma!" serves as lighting designer and Roger Arnett serves as sound designer.

Ticket prices are $20 and $15 reserved seating with students only $9 with ID. Tickets are available in person at the League Ticket Office, located within the Michigan League. The Ticket Office is open from 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday and 10am-1pm on Saturday. Order by phone at (734) 764-2538. All major credit cards are accepted. Tickets may also be ordered online at www.uprod.music.edu. The Power Center for the Performing Arts, located at 121 Fletcher Street, is handicapped accessible and equipped with an infrared listening system for hearing enhancement.
# # #

CAST (Hometown):
Wesley Alfvin (Manhattan Beach. CA), Jenni Barber (Mansfield, OH),
Danny Binstock (Potomac, MD), Odin Lund Biron (Duluth, MN),
Alexandra Brock (Houston, TX), Alex Brumel (Marlboro, NJ),
Mark Christine (Massillon, OH), Janine DiVita (Overland Park, KS),
Liz Filios (Canton, MI), Felipe Gonzalez (junior, Akron, OH),
Anne Horak (De Pere, WI), David Hull (Cincinnati, OH),
Stephanie Layton (Olympia, WA), Michael Mahoney (Ann Arbor, MI),
Brian Mazzaferri (Glenview, IL), Lorna McGee (Fairmont, WV),
Alex Michaels (New York, NY), Benj Pasek (Philadelphia, PA),
Justin Paul (Westport, CT), Josh Rouah (Ft. Lauderdale, FL),
Kendal Sparks (Washington, DC), Brian Spitulnik (Potomac, MD),
Tessa Waldheger (Westlake, OH), Amos Wolff (Nyack, NY),
Cortney Wolfson (Lafayette, IN), Michael Zahler (New York, NY)

- Kerianne M. Tupac




Program
Click here to view the City of Angels program as a PDF file




Production Photographs

Hollywood Cast




Angel City 4 - Alexandra Brock,Kendal Sparks, Stephanie Layton, Alex Michaels Micahel Zahler as Stine




Michael Zahler and Tessa Faye as Donna Michael Zahler and Alex Brumel as Buddy Fiddler




Michael Zahler and Josh Rouah as Stone The Angel City 4 with Brian Mazzaferri as Jimmy Powers




Michael Zahler and Tessa Faye Michael Zahler and Jenni Barber as Avril Raines




Cast Alex Brumel




Michael Zahler and Lorna McGee as Gabby Michael Zahler




Cast Michael Zahler and Josh Rouah


Movie Cast




Janine DeVita as Alaura Kingsley Lorna McGee as Bobbi




Lorna McGee and Josh Rouah Tessa Faye as Oolie




Odin Lund Biron as Dr. Mandril Janine DeVita




Jenni Barber as Mallory Kingsley Felipe Gonzalez as Mahoney




Justin Paul as Cororner, Brian Spitulnik as Munoz,
Felipe Gonzalez, Mark Christine as Officer Pasco




Josh Rouah Amos Wolff as Big Six, Josh Rouah, David Hull as Sonny




Anne Horak as Madame and Josh Rouah Janine DiVita and Josh Rouah




Jenni Barber and Danny Binstock as Peter Kingsley Wesley Alfin as Luther Kingsley and Janine DiVita