St Martin's Lane, London
Public Previews: 6 March 2020
Opens: 24 March 2019
Closes: 5 September 2020
Buy tickets:Buy tickets online
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square
Monday at 7.30pm
Tuesday at 7.30pm
Wednesday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Thursday at 7.30pm
Friday at 7.30pm
Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Sunday no shows
Sat 7 March at 7.30pm only
Wed 11 March at 7.30pm only
Tue 24 March at 7.00pm only
Runs ? hours and ? minutes
£? to £?
(plus booking fees if applicable)
The Donmar Warehouse's acclaimed revival of the Cy Coleman and David Zippel musical City of Angels in London's West End starring Vanessa Williams
The novelist Stine is lured to Hollywood to write the film script of his own bestselling, 1940s private-eye novel that features the detective 'Stone'. But Los Angeles is a dangerous temptation and while his movie plays out in black and white, his new life becomes all-too colourful.
The cast at the West End's Garrick Theatre features Hadley Fraser as 'Stine', Rosalie Craig as 'Gabby' / 'Bobbi', Rebecca Trehearn as 'Donna' / 'Oolie', Marc Elliott as 'Lt. Munoz' / 'Pancho', Nick Cavaliere as 'Sonny', Adam Fogarty as 'Big Six', and Mark Penfold as 'Luther Kingsley' - who are all reprising their roles from the 2014 Donmar Warehouse staging. They are joined at the Garrick Theatre by Vanessa Williams as 'Carla Haywood' / 'Alaura Kingsley', along with Rob Houchen as 'Jimmy Powers' / 'Dr Mandril', Joshua St Clair as 'Peter Kingsley', Cindy Bellot, Sadie-Jean Shirley, Manuel Pacific, and Ryan Reid. Directed by Josie Rourke with choreography by Stephen Mear, designs by Robert Jones, video and projections by Duncan McLean, lighting by Howard Harrison, and sound by Terry Jardine and Nick Lidster. Musical with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by David Zippel, and book by Larry Gelbart.
When this production was originally seen at the Donmr Warehouse in 2014, Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard described how "this musical comedy is clever and gloriously stylish as it pays homage to the soulfulness of film noir and has gleeful fun at the expense of Hollywood," adding that Josie Rourke's "swaggering yet elegant revival is packed with classy performances... At times the score strays towards frantic pastiche and the storytelling is a bit too ingenious for its own good. But this is a smart, seductive and often very funny show." Michael Billington in the Guardian commented that "it has one of the wittiest books ever written, boasts an effervescent score written by Cy Coleman and gets as slick and svelte a production by Josie Rourke as you could wish. If less than a great musical, it is because you feel the story could exist quite happily without the songs... Even though it's not a perfect show, the presentation is immaculate... The performances are also excellent. Hadley Fraser's harassed Stine is ideally matched by the Bogartesque assurance of Tam Mutu's Stone." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times wrote that "it is given a staging by Josie Rourke that is both vibrant and an admirably astute example of shrinking a large-scale musical to the all-but-chamber size of the Donmar Warehouse... If the ultimate spark of magic fails to ignite, no matter: this may not be love, but it's still supremely good company." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph praised this "stupendous revival at the Donmar Warehouse by Josie Rourke... and if the male principals - Hadley Fraser's Stine, Tam Matu's Stone and Peter Polycarpou's Buddy - are impressive, the leading ladies - Rosalie Craig, Katherine Kelly and Rebecca Trehearn - are even more stunning every which way. If there are angels up there, please answer my prayers and ensure this transfers." Neil Norman in the Daily Express highlighted that "stylistically audacious it plays on the eternal verities of movie-making while toying with the cliches of pulp fiction... this is jazzed-up, musical theatre at its best." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail said that this show "is an exceedingly - excessively - clever musical co-created by Larry Gelbart... There is plenty to delight eye and ear in Josie Rourke's production but I must say I became bored of it long before the end... The doubling, the plot tricksiness, becomes everything. It is hard to form an emotional bond with these characters because they are two-dimensional, two times over." Dominic Maxwell in the Times thought that "pastiching film noir, plying one-liners galore, City of Angels is like a zippier The Singing Detective with its own tunes... Sure, it's a show for people in love with the process of fiction, with the business of show. By the end, though, this brilliant cast ensure that that's all of us. Bravo."
Hadley Fraser's West End theatre credits include the roles of 'Frederick Frankenstein' in Susan Stroman's production of Mel Brooks' musical Young Frankenstein at the Garrick Theatre in 2017; 'Dunois, the Bastard of Orleans' in Josie Rourke's revival of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan at the Donmar Warehouse in 2016; 'First Halberdier' in Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh's revival of Terence Rattigan's The Harlequinade at the Garrick Theatre in 2015; 'Narrator' in Amon Miyamoto's revival of the Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt musical The Fantasticks at the Duchess Theatre in 2010; 'Ashton Pelham-Martyn' in Gale Edwards' production of Philip Henderson and Stephen Clark's musical The Far Pavilions at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2005; 'Frederic' in Steven Dexter's revival of Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta The Pirates of Penzance at the Savoy Theatre in 2004; and 'Curly' in Steven Dexter's revival of J M Barrie's Peter Pan at the Savoy Theatre in 2003.
Rosalie Craig's London theatre credits include the roles of 'Caitlin Carney' in Sam Mendes' production of Jez Butterworth's The Ferryman at the Gielgud Theatre in 2018; 'Rosalind' in Polly Findlay's revival of Shakespeare's As You Like It at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 2015; 'Beggar Woman' in Lonny Price's concert revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd at the London Coliseum in 2015; 'Arwen' in Matthew Warchus's production of the musical Lord of the Rings at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2007; and the ensemble in Laurence Boswell's production of Euripides' Hecuba for the RSC at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2005.
Rebecca Trehearn's West End stage credits include the roles of 'Belle' in Matthew Warchus' production of Jack Thorne's stage adapation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic Theatre in 2019; 'Julie La Verne' in Daniel Evans' revival of the Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II musical Show Boat at the New London Theatre in 2016; the ensemble in Rachel Kavanaugh's production of Howard Goodall and Stephen Clark musical Love Story at the Duchess Theatre in 2010.
This production was originally seen at the Donmar Warehouse - previewed from 5 December 2014, opened on 16 December 2014, and closed on 7 February 2015 - when the cast featured Hadley Fraser as 'Stine', Tam Mutu as 'Stone', Peter Polycarpou as 'Buddy Fidler', Rosalie Craig as 'Gabby' / 'Bobbi', Katherine Kelly as 'Carla Haywood' / 'Alaura Kingsley', Rebecca Trehearn as 'Donna' / 'Oolie', with Samantha Barks as 'Avril Raines' / 'Mallory Kingsley', Marc Elliott as 'Lt. Munoz' / 'Pancho', Tim Walton as 'Jimmy Powers' / 'Dr Mandril', Nick Cavaliere as 'Sonny', Cameron Cuffe as 'Peter Kinglsey', Adam Fogerty as 'Big Six', Mark Penfold as 'Luther Kingsley', Sandra Marvin, Jennifer Saayeng, Kadiff Kirwan, and Jo Servi.
This musical originally played in New York on Broadway at the Virginia Theatre in 1989 where it enjoyed a two year run, winning four Tony-Awards including for 'Best Musical', 'Best Book of a Musical' and 'Best Original Score'. The show transferred to London's West End in 1993, playing at the Prince of Wales Theatre for eight months, winning the Olivier Award for 'Best New Musical'.
The award-winning 1940s jazz musical featuring a whole range of characters: Stine - a novelist who came to Hollywood to write a screenplay and had his own life rewritten; Stone - a LA private investigator. If there was anyone who hadn't had him beat up or betrayed him, they probably hadn't got to town yet; Alaura Kingsley - a femme fatale that black widow spiders could take lessons from; Gabby, Stine's wife - a New York book editor. The only Southern Californians she really liked were all in Forest Lawn; Buddy Fidler - a high-powered producer and director. Movies ran in his blood, mostly drained from other people; Bobbi, Stone's girl - a nightclub singer that men listened to mostly with their eyes; Jimmy Powers - a popular singing star with an utterly forgettable style; Big Six - a hoodlum, whose nickname was also his IQ; Sonny - a diminutive hoodlum. Just the right size for petty crimes; Oolie, Stone's Girl Friday - she'd lay down her life for him, but he was forever lying down somewhere else; Peter Kingsley - tall, good looking, and worth millions, yet somehow women found him attractive; Avril Raines - a luscious Hollywood starlet, yet another graduate of the casting couch school of acting; Luther Kingsley - disgustingly rich, he'd have been just as disgusting poor; Carla Haywood - a siren of the silver screen, married to Buddy Fidler. Talented and faithful, although not necessarily to Buddy; Donna, Buddy Fidler's secretary - always a bridesmaid, forever in love with somebody else's groom; Lt. Munoz - a man of vengeance, he lived for the day he could carve his initials in Stone; Irwin S Irwing - the complete studio mongul, as big a philanthropist as he was a producer; Mallory Kingsley - a Pasadena debutante, young, reckless and spoiled rotten, to perfection; Dr Mandril - fraud, fake, phony, charlatan. One of the most sought after people in LA.
"No living lyricist except Stephen Sondheim writes better lyrics than David Zippel, at least those he wrote for City Of Angels. The 1989 musical satirising Hollywood's (lack of) values, playfully pastiching the private eye movies of the Forties, is by Larry Gelbart and has a snazzy, jazzy score by Cy Coleman... 'Real' life happens in glorious Technicolor, while the 'reel' life - in which Stone's movie is made into a witless cliche by the cigarsmoking megalomaniac mogul Buddy Fiddler - is restricted to black and white. Stine's rewrites and edits are brilliantly enacted with the actors reversing as if a tape is being rewound and wiped out, and then playing the new line. But one can have too much of even the very best of things. This show is too clever by half and too long by a third. Admirable and enjoyable but uninvolving." Mail on Sunday
"City of Angels is a comedy musical, set in 1940s Los Angeles, that first saw the light of day on Broadway in 1989, winning three Tonys. The Donmar's new production of the show, which has music from Cy Coleman, a book by Larry Gelbart and lyrics from David Zippel, is slick, entertaining and witty, and Josie Rourke's directorial flourishes are often a joy to behold. Nevertheless, by the end, you are left with the feeling that you have seen little more than a nicely staged and acted bubble of nothing... City of Angels doesn't say anything interesting or original about artistic integrity or the loss thereof: it's just a plot device, and the plot never grips you... You can admire this show for its slickness, but it leaves you undernourished. And at nearly three hours perched on the Donmar's famously puritanical seats, it's a long, long evening." The Sunday Times
"This is one of those art-imitating-life-imitating-art shows, in which a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, adapting his Chandleresque private eye novel for the screen, is faced first with the crass demands of his Hollywood producer and then with the derision of his alter ego, who accuses him of selling him out... Cy Coleman's jazzy, bluesy score is a delight but David Zippel's punning lyrics do grow increasingly tiresome. Josie Rourke's production is a triumph of style over substance... Hadley Fraser, Tam Mutu and Rosalie Craig lead an energetic cast but the show itself is like the proverbial onion: when the self-reflective layers are peeled away, there is nothing underneath." The Sunday Express
Cy Coleman said about writing this show: "I had always wanted to write a jazz score for a Broadway musical - one that encompassed the feel, nuances, riffs and all the unique features that make up the elusive and wonderful music known as jazz. The first problem was how to harness it, when few people have ever been able actually to describe it. The fabled Louis Armstrong, when asked, 'What is Jazz?', replied in effect, 'If you don't know, don't mess with it'. I felt qualified to 'mess with it' since I had played jazz night clubs, worked with fabulous jazz musicians, made a dozen or so jazz albums, and lived and worked in jazz since I forsook a calling as a concert pianist in my teens and turned to this form of music. I found a willing partner in Larry Gelbart, who is not only one of the great writers in all the media (A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, M*A*S*H, Sly Fox, and Tootsie) but was, conveniently for me, at one time a jazz saxophonist. We decided to use a private eye story as the setting since there already was a tradition of blues and jazz associated with it. It also provided an era where jazz reigned in a very visible way, namely the forties. My first challenge was how to put my own imprint on the music and not make it a carbon copy of every jazz band and singer that performed in that era. I did that by looking at the forties from the vantage point of the nineties and putting myself in that period with the knowledge and the musical understanding that I have now. There were times when I'd have to nod to the pastiche of the era and decided to do that in those scenes in the play that could be heard on the radio or at a recording studio of the period. Larry's notion of two stories running concurrently, the writer's real life in Hollywood and the film he is writing, gave me a chance further to extend my musical vocabulary by adding an actual film score to the work."
City of Angels in London at the Garrick Theatre, public previews from 6 March 2020, opens on 24 March 2019, and closes on 5 September 2020
Original West End London Production 1993 - Prince of Wales Theatre
Previewed 19 March 1993, Opened 30 March 1993, Closed 18 November 1993 at the Prince of Wales Theatre
The original cast featured Roger Allam as 'Stone', Henry Goodman as 'Buddy Fidler' / 'Irwin S Irving', Martin Smith as 'Stine', Haydn Gwynne as 'Oolie' / 'Donna', Susannah Fellows as 'Alaura Kingsley' / 'Carla Haywood', Fiona Hendley as 'Gabby' / 'Bobbi', with Maurice Clarke as 'Jimmy Powers', Sarah Jane Hassell as 'Mallory Kingsley' / 'Avril Raines', David Schofield as 'Lt. Munoz' / 'Pancho Vargas', along with Jonathan Avery, Joanne Farrell, Andrew Halliday, Louis Hammond, Debra McCulloch, Billy J Mitchell, Ben Parry, Jeanette Ranger, Derek Richards, Geoffrey Rose, Neil Rutherford, Mike Tezcan, Zoe Tyler, Robert Wilson, Annette Yeo, Matt Zimmerman, along with Stuart de la Mere, and Lesley Windsor.
From Monday 23 August 1993, Teddy Kempner took over the roles of 'Buddy Fidler' and 'Irwin S Irving', and Tom Magdich took over the roles of 'Munoz' / 'Pancho Vargas'.
Directed by Michael Blakemore with choreography by Walter Painter, designs by Robin Wagner, costumes by Florence Klotz, lighting by Paul Gallo, and sound by Andrew Bruce.