NYU Will Give City of Angels Fresh Dramatic Lens in February
By Adam Hetrick
Students of New York University's Steinhardt School will present a revival of the Tony Award-winning film-noir musical City of Angels, featuring a jazz score by late composer Cy Coleman and lyrics by David Zippel.
John Simpkins (The Black Suits, Bloodsong of Love, Party Come Here) will stage the limited Feb. 7-11 run that will be presented at the Frederick Loewe Theatre. Larry Gelbart penned the Tony-winning book to the production that will have choreography by MK Lawson and music direction by Grant Wenaus.
The NYU production marks a rare New York-area return for City of Angels. Brooklyn's Gallery Players previously presented the production in 2010. The musical, which centers on a screenwriter whose film begins to infiltrate his own life, first premiered on Broadway in 1990.
Simpkins told Playbill.com that he opted to eschew the original Broadway concept (which has been frequently repeated in subsequent stagings) of having the dualistic film and "real life" worlds of City of Angels delineated through the use of black-and-white scenes on one side of the stage versus color on the other.
"I knew I did not want to pursue that direction – not necessarily because I think I have a better way to tell the story – but because I wanted to find a different lens that would work for our production," Simpkins said. "Something that would endeavor to purposely blur the lines between reality and fantasy."
"We decided, even though the piece is about a movie, to set it actually in a theatre," he continued. "Perhaps it is even Stine's [the central screenwriter in the story] way of healing (through writing) from a process he went through in Hollywood when he was trying to write this screenplay... Perhaps now he is writing a musical about the entire experience and is able to expose it and the people he encountered."
City of Angels will be flecked with a Brechtian angle. The production team has embraced this meta-theatrical approach. "To that end, our 'set' becomes the theatre we are in," Simpkins continued. "Costume changes can happen onstage, actors can be around the space all night watching the musical (or the movie), the band can be visible onstage, and we can employ devices usually reserved only for musical theatre."
Theatrical industry members curious to see Simpkins' approach and the talents of the Steinhardt undergraduate and graduate students may attend the free Feb. 11 Industry Night performance. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The cast of City of Angels will feature Tzeitel Abrego, Laura Aprruzzese, Clare Bohrer, Andreas Bongard, M. Elijah Caldwell, Drew Carr, Bethany Fagan, Kenny Francoeur, Jon Friestedt, Jarrad Green, Israel R. Hillery, Alex Hunnell, Daniel Iwrey, Drew B. James, Trevor James, Jane Kivnick, Aaron Komo, Christian Lowery, Nikki Padula, Eli Rose, Sophia Spronov and Rachel Womble.
City of Angels has scenic design by Maruti Evans, lighting design by Chris Dallos, costume design by Michelle Humphrey and sound design by Craig Kaufman.
In recent years the Steinhardt School has staged rarely-seen musicals such as Alan Menken and Tim Rice's King David, and Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnelia's Sweet Smell of Success.
For tickets, phone (212) 352-3101 or visit nyu.edu/ticketcentral/calendar. The Frederick Loewe Theatre is located at 35 West 4th Street.
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