City of Angels, a Ram’s Head production, was an absorbing pot-pourri of Broadway-esque jazz, comedy and film noir. The plot of this meandering musical-within-a-musical was a little hard to follow, especially since the premise was its state of continual revision, but this was more than made up for by a sumptuous set and Stanford’s thespian and orchestral talent.
Sex, murder and intrigue abound in this all-too human story of a screenwriter struggling for fame, pandering to his sensationalist producer-director, cheating on his wife, internally plagued by his characters’ thoughts. As he hacks away at his 1940s typewriter, working and reworking the script, his words spring to life on stage left. Felonies, betrayals and infidelities ensue. Everybody sleeps with everybody else. Predictable, yet satisfying.
That half the actors played double roles, often with only subtle character dissimilarities, really speaks for their versatility. (I didn’t realize Anneka Kumli was both Bobbi and Gabby until five minutes before the curtain, a fact that I attribute entirely to her acting, not my vision…) On the whole the show was extremely well cast, perhaps most notably Alaura Kingsley and her legs. Graham Roth (aka Buddy Fiddler) captured a familiar Hollywood stereotype as the quintessentially pushy, shallow director; Clare Bruzek’s sweet, clear voice in “You Can Always Count on Me” was one of the highlights of Act II; Alon Devorah’s endearingly ridiculous Hispanic accent offset some of the doom and gloom that was beginning to develop. Perhaps a little too many gratuitous fornication scenes, but Mallory Kingsley’s lingerie was probably the high point of the evening for some. And undeniably, “SEX”, plastered over every poster across campus, was one of the musical’s intended unique selling points.
There were many fine voices to be found here: the chorus with Rob Biedry was delightful, and though Stine’s acting was decent, it was his singing that really stole the show. Stone was perhaps a better actor than a singer, pulling off convincingly the image of the earnest but easily seducible detective, subject to the whims of fate and the femme fatale. The orchestra was fabulous; I walked away with Cy Coleman’s lingering melodies ringing in my ears, and proceeded to download it all on iTunes the next day. All in all, it was an engaging drama, a thrilling extravaganza of words, color and music. The Last 5 Years will have big shoes to fill indeed. Bravo.____________________________________________________________
Nayantara is a Freshman studying Music and CS, and can be contacted at nayanj at stanford.edu.