MUSE’s City of Angels is the type of show you can’t help falling in love with. With its sultry, jazzy score, formidable chorus and multi-talented cast, it is a true homage to the film noir genre.
First and foremost, it is a technically difficult show, as there are two interweaving plots to deal with: one takes place in the “real” world of Stine (Liam Ferguson), an indecisive novelist at odds with a Hollywood producer; the other in the “reel” world of Stone (Curtis Goding), the well-loved protagonist of Stine’s most successful detective novel.
Both the production team and the cast do a stellar job of navigating these plots. The use of colour is particularly effective in differentiating the two worlds; the “real” world exists in vibrant colour, while the “reel” world exists in black-and-white (in true film noir style).
The show also relies on tight choreography and good comic timing, especially in the more complex scenes where the two worlds collide, and time moves backwards and forwards. The whole cast shows demonstrable skill in these scenes, as well as the various song and dance numbers.
While many of the characters – including detective Stone – are profoundly arrogant, sleazy and shallow, the self-reflexive nature of the show ensures that we don’t take these characters too seriously. The actors do a fine job of bringing out the humour in these roles, and satirising the more ridiculous elements of 1940s Hollywood.
Aidan Kane is a shining example of this – his portrayal of Buddy, a dodgy, hot-tempered Hollywood producer, is fabulously exaggerated, and positively hilarious.
Mallory Kingsley (Sasha Meaney) is also a standout, with great comic timing and a voice fit for a star.
In contrast, Charlotte Snedden (Gabby/Bobbi) and Phoebe Clark (Donna/Oolie) do a fantastic job of portraying more authentic moments, and elevating the role of women to something that is more than just peripheral.
My biggest qualm with the production is that it started to lag halfway through the second act, but it certainly picked up towards the end. There was also some heavy breathing that could be heard at the end of more vigorous dance numbers.
Overall, City of Angels is an extremely professional production, which showcases the sheer breadth of talent in MUSE. Even those who aren’t necessarily fans of musical theatre are sure to enjoy this fabulous show.
Editorial By: Jasmine Cavanough
Photo Credit: Aparna Balakumar