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Friday, March 30, 2018

You can always count on CITY OF ANGELS for a great night of musical theatre!

I had the chance to take in City of Angels at Grant MacEwan University (in the new Triffo Theatre) on Tuesday night. It was World Theatre Day so it seemed appropriate to see a show! City of Angels is one of my favourite shows which has several roles that I would personally love to play (I've aged out of a couple of them... but I could still play Donna/Oolie!!). Anyhow, I love the Cy Coleman score and the concept of the show which plays on film noir and Hollywood tropes. 

Set in Hollywood in the 1940’s the show follows Stine (Joshua Travnik), a young novelist attempting a screenplay of his bestselling novel for movie producer Buddy (Austin From). This is intercut with a film noir enactment of the film in progress which tells the story of detective Stone (Anthony Hurst) and his search for a missing girl. Travnik and Hurst are terrific vocalists and actors and they do an excellent job of capturing the style required for each of their worlds. They both hold their own onstage and the Act One closing duet, "Your're Nothing Without Me" is really outstanding  From plays Buddy with an appropriate bluster and roughness and doesn't shy away from the unlikable qualities of his character which makes for a lot of fun. 

The Director Leigh Rivenbark chose to not do the traditional doubling casting where actors play parallel characters in the 'real' world and the 'film'. I wasn't sure how this would work, but it did for the most part. It certainly allowed the production to showcase the talents of more of the class. It would have been nice to see a little more matching of the roles, however, if only for the audience to understand that Bobbi (Daniela Fernandez) & Gabby (Isabella King) and that Carla (Amalia Gonzalez Chovanec) & Alaura (Chariz Faulmino) are parallel characters. It's clearer with Donna (Kendra Humphrey) and Oolie (Jaclyn Kucey) because their song connects them. In this group of powerhouse women, there are no weak links. Faulmino plays her role with attack and sass and despite her small stature she has a huge voice. Fernandez has a appropriate level of brokenness and the duet of "With Every Breath I Take" between her and Hurst is the best I have ever heard. King brings intelligence to her role that makes you understand why Stone loves her and needs her. Humprey and Kucey play their 'Girl Friday' roles with a nice contrast and they each add their own tone to "You Can Always Count on Me" (however, I was hoping that with the role split there was a way to bring Oolie back for the end of the song... I know, I know... it's not written that way...).

I must also give kudos to the set design (Robyn Ayles) and how it's used. As the show flips back and forth from scene to scene much like a movie does, this production uses shadows, projection and a revolve in addition to hidden doors and a truck to make those switches as fast as they need to be. They do an excellent job at the film reel atmosphere really lends itself to creating the world. Costume designer Megan Koshka has also helped with the black and white aesthetic (right down to the black lipstick) in the movie vs. the Technicolor feel of 40's Hollywood. The ensemble also commits completely to whichever world they're in and you can tell they enjoy embracing the accents and attitudes. 

Anyhow, the show runs two more nights until March 31st. It's a fun show with wonderful music and if you like that Hollywood glamour and a hard-boiled detective story, I encourage you to check it out!

Click here for tickets. 

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