By: Jailene Adorno
From March 27 to May 2, 2015, the Lyric Stage of Boston will be putting on the production of City of Angels. Director Spiro Veloudos brought along a few cast members as part of WERS’ Standing Room Only program. They gave us all a taste of the music from the play as well as some insight as to what it’s about.
“It’s a sendup and an homage to the genre of movies called film noir,” said Director Veloudos.
City of Angels includes a story within the story. One is being told in the real world, and the other is told in the reel world. The story follows Stine (Phil Tayler), a novelist who is trying to write a screenplay for a ruthless movie producer. However, along the way, audiences also get to meet Stine’s detective alter-ego, Stone, from the reel world. The plotline is complex because there are two stories going on at once, but it’s interesting as well as it takes on this 1940s genre.
The first song that was performed was titled, “What You Don’t Know About Women,” and was sung by Jennifer Ellis (who plays Gabby and Bobbi) and Leigh Barrett (who plays Oolie and Donna). In this song, the ladies really go at it and express their frustrations about men as well as what they think they know versus what they actually know.
Jennifer Ellis then sang a solo titled “With Every Breath I Take.” As Ellis plays lounge singer Bobbi, she really expressed her feelings for wanting to make it in Hollywood. She was filled with emotion and displayed a beautiful vocal range as she sang.
The cast described the show as a “backstage musical” that was being shown in black and white and color. Veloudos was amazed that he was able to fit such a large-scale show in a small, intimate theater. The cast and production team were really blown away by the score and they hope that the music becomes memorable.
“You just don’t get that kind of score in musical theater anymore,” said cast member Barrett.
The next song, “Funny,” was a solo sung by Phil Tayler. During this part of the play, Tayler’s character Stine is really frustrated about his screenplay. This song has a vastly different attitude from the others as we really feel the raw anger and pressure that Stine feels. As he continues to ask, “Isn’t it funny?” it’s meant to be taken in a more ironic and sarcastic way that becomes more evident in the tone in which Tayler sings.
Lee Barrett sang solo on the last song, “You Can Always Count on Me.” In this song, Barrett’s character reaffirms her loyalty. She explains that no matter how questionable the situation or task may be, she’s got your back. There was this fun, little bounce in her step as Barrett performed, which only confirmed how much she enjoyed what she was doing.
Veloudos stated that he found the most challenging part of this production to be the scenery. Because of the complex nature of the play, during rehearsal the cast and crew would often get confused as to which part was being rehearsed and what scenery would be used.
“You have to have some sense of reality, but we’re not doing fully realized sets,” Veloudos said. “But there’s more scenery in this show than we’ve ever had in any other show at the Lyric, that I can remember.”
The cast and crew of City of Angels want audiences to appreciate the fact that they were able to put on a massive show in the small space. It wasn’t easy, but they worked really hard at it. They also want people to walk away from the show with the music stuck in their heads. The music is big, brassy, and reminiscent of the late 1940s, there’s no way this production wouldn’t be memorable.
City of Angels is also a book by Larry Gelbart. However, the stage production includes music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by David Zippel, and choreography by Rachel Bertone. Music Director, Catherine Stornetta conducts the entire show. City of Angels will be at the Lyric Stage of Boston until May 2nd, so be sure to get a ticket!