Monday, May 10, 2010

City of Angels

Photo: Bella Muccari

City of Angels, a delightful musical by Cy Coleman (the enjoyable music), David Zippel (the mixed-quality lyrics), and Larry Gelbart (the hysterical book), combines the real world (the story of a novelist struggling to write a screenplay) and the reel world (the screenplay come to life). With multiple sets, a large cast, frequent costume changes, and the need for over-the-top performances that don't go too far over the top, City of Angels is an ambitious choice for an Off-Off-Broadway theatre company. However, the folks at the Gallery Players, located in Brooklyn, are more than up to the challenge. The five-piece band is excellent, and the cast handles the humor, singing, and costume changes with aplomb. Particularly outstanding were Blair Alexis Brown, playing secretaries in both worlds; Danny Rothman as the fictional private eye; and John Weigand, who knows how to make the most out of performing in an iron lung. The weaknesses in the Gallery Players' production can mostly, I suspect, be chalked up to lack of funds. The scene changes take too long, and the differentiation between the real and reel worlds is accomplished with a lighting scheme that makes the actors look a little green around the gills (in the Broadway version, the real world was in color and the reel world--scenery, costumes--in black and white). The voiceovers could also be a little clearer. But the strengths of this production far outweigh the weaknesses, and it's not too late for you to see it (it runs through May 23rd).

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