by Brenda W. Clough
Surely there is no pleasure like a musical theater that combines witty lyrics, the perfect melodies, and a solid book? If this is your idea of a great show then City of Angels is all you could ever want. I saw this at a red-hot production at theNextStop Theatre in Herndon VA. Being so near a major metro area, the region is stiff with performers who are good enough to be on Broadway.
And they are needed. This is one challenging show! You know how some shows are showcases for the music, or the costuming? This show belongs to the lighting designer. Because there are two casts and two sets, all running around on the same stage — one black-and-white movie, and one real-life and in color. Costuming fixes some of it, but lighting makes the entire set split into color and black-and-white. It’s amazing and delightful, pure theater. And the score! In an ideal musical the score undergirds the story perfectly. What could Phantom of the Opera be byt operatic, or Les Miserables epic? And City of Angels is jazzy and hot and noir, like rye on the rocks with a twist. It is worth finding the cast album and giving it a listen, but in the meantime here is a pair of Australian singers doing the first act closing number.
And possibly you can tell from this song why this is such a fun dhow for writers. Because here the author and the character are confronting each other. The entire drama is about being a writer — of wresting against all foes, inner and outer, to get the work out into the world. The author needs his creation, because that’s how he’s accessing his own better nature. This is a very ancient theme, going back at least to Dante. And writers loooove works that assure is that writers are important!