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City of Angels

Cy Coleman, Larry Gelbart, David Zippel

Full Length Musical, Dramatic Comedy  /  8f, 8m

Book by Larry Gelbart / Music by Cy Coleman / Lyrics by David Zippel / Originally produced on Broadway by / Nick Vanoff, Roger Berlind, Jujamcyn Theaters, Suntory International Corp. and The Shubert Organization

A smart and stylish film noir musical, Tony Award winner City of Angels captures the gritty sights and sounds of Hollywood’s classic detective movies, all set to a brilliant, bluesy jazz score.
City of Angels
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OVERVIEW

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    8f, 8m
  • Duration
    Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Parody / Spoof
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Adult
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)
Accolades
Accolades
  • Winner! Six 1990 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Book and Score
    Winner! Nine 1990 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical, Book, Score, Lyrics and Orchestration
    Winner! Three 1990 Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Outstanding Broadway Musical
    Winner! 1990 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical
Description

In the late 1940s, Stine, a bookish writer of detective stories, struggles to adapt his crime novel into a workable screenplay. As Stine tries to maintain some integrity in the backstabbing world of Hollywood, his protagonist, a hardboiled private eye named Stone, fights for survival in a city full of criminals and opportunists. In a clever design choice, the stories are told on a split stage: Stine’s world is in full color, while Stone’s appears in black and white. With wit, humor, and a fantastic Cy Coleman score, City of Angels captures the snappy dialogue of a Raymond Chandler novel and the glitzy showmanship of classic Hollywood; the result is a crowd-pleasing musical unlike any other.

History
City of Angels opened on Broadway at the Virginia Theatre on December 11, 1989, starring Gregg Edelman, James Naughton, Kay McClelland and Randy Graff. The show won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and played for 879 performances.

Act I

Stone, a tough Los Angeles private eye, lies on a hospital gurney with a bullet in his shoulder and a lot on his mind. He flashes back to a week earlier, when his loyal Girl Friday secretary, Oolie, ushered in a rich, beautiful woman named Alaura. Alaura claims she wants Stone to find her missing stepdaughter, Mallory Kingsley, a beautiful "bad" girl. Against his better judgment, he takes the case.

A man at a typewriter appears onstage, and Stone and Alaura suddenly back up, "rewind," and play the scene with a few changes. The man at the typewriter is Stine, author of the popular detective novel City of Angels, which he is adapting into a screenplay at the behest of Hollywood producer/director Buddy Fidler. Stine's wife Gabby has misgivings and wishes that he would stick to novels, but for now, Stine is enjoying the ride.

We begin to see the interplay between "reality" and fiction as Gabby (in the real world) and Oolie (in the story-within-the-story) lament how their men won't listen to them ("What You Don't Know About Women").

Stone, alone in his dreary bungalow, is listening to the radio: Jimmy Powers and the Angel City 4 are singing "You Gotta Look Out For Yourself." Two thugs break down his door, beat him up, and knock him out. Cut to Buddy Fidler reading this scene in the screenplay: we see that his secretary, Donna, is the model for Oolie, and that Buddy can't help meddling with everything ("The Buddy System").

Stone is rudely awakened by Lieutenant Munoz, who was Stone's partner on the force but now bears him a major grudge. Once, Stone loved a low-rent lounge singer named Bobbi, whom Stine based on Gabby ("With Every Breath I Take"). But Bobbi wanted stardom more than marriage, and when Stone caught her with a Hollywood producer (based on Buddy) tempers flared, a gun went off, and the producer was killed. Munoz has never forgiven Stone for "getting away with murder."

Stone, angry after the beating, confronts Alaura at her mansion and meets several more unsavory characters, including her lustful stepson, her polio-stricken elderly husband, and his quack doctor. Greed and malice hover like smog, but Alaura's charms and bankroll keep Stone on the case ("The Tennis Song"). He fruitlessly pursues the missing Mallory in a scene that recalls a film montage ("Ev'rybody's Gotta Be Somewhere"), only to find her waiting naked in his bed ("Lost And Found"). Stone somehow manages to resist temptation -- which is more than can be said for his creator. After Gabby returns to New York, Stine takes comfort in Donna's bed.

A photographer breaks into Stone's bungalow and snaps a picture of him with Mallory. She runs off with his gun, which is subsequently used to murder the quack doctor. Stone is framed for the killing; Munoz gleefully arrests him ("All You Have To Do Is Wait").

Stine is having a lousy time of it too. Buddy is butchering his script, his conscience is nagging him about his infidelity, and Stone, his own creation, is disgusted with him. The curtain falls with each of them arguing, to a swinging big-band accompaniment, "You're Nothing Without Me."

Act II

In a recording studio, Jimmy Powers and the Angel City 4 are singing "Stay With Me," which then becomes a record playing in a bedroom that looks like Alaura's, but actually belongs to Carla Haywood, Buddy's wife, who will play Alaura in the movie.

Stone languishes in jail, attended only by Oolie, who like her alter ego, Donna, is feeling used by men ("You Can Always Count On Me"). Stone is mysteriously bailed out, but the two hoods catch up with him and nearly blow him up before he neatly turns the tables.

Stine has troubles of his own. Lonely at a Hollywood party of Buddy's sycophants, including a Hollywood composer ("Alaura's Theme"), Stine phones home only to find that Gabby has discovered that he cheated on her. He flies to New York with an elaborately prepared excuse, but she's not buying it ("It Needs Work").

Stone, fighting to clear his name, is led to a brothel ("LA Blues") where he is stunned to find Bobbi. We learn it was she who shot the producer; Stone has been covering for her all this time. Together, they face the wreckage of their love ("With Every Breath I Take").

In Hollywood, Stine is approached by a young starlet, Avril, who will be playing Mallory. She begs him to reconsider killing off Mallory near the end. He says he'll think about it.

Oolie, meanwhile, has discovered that Alaura is a fortune hunter who has already murdered one rich husband and is planning to do away with this one, once she had eliminated his son, daughter, and doctor. She tried to get her stepson, Peter, to kill the doctor and Mallory, but he couldn't bring himself to kill. Stone confronts her at the mansion; they grapple for her gun; shots ring out. Alaura falls dead, Stone is gravely wounded, and we're back where we started.

But where does that leave Stine? Gabby has rejected him and his lover, Donna, has been rewriting his script. Stine faces the collapse of his real and fictive worlds, and as his emotions take over, his wit turns bitter ("Funny"). When Stine arrives on the movie set to find that Buddy's name appears above his on the screenplay, and that the shallow crooner Jimmy Powers will play Stone, Stine boils over. With the "real" Stone, his conscience, finally leading him to make the right choice, he rages at Buddy, gets himself fired, and is about to get beat up by two security guards when Stone somehow appears at Stine's typewriter and writes him the fighting skills of a superhero, then tacks on a "Hollywood ending" in which Gabby returns, forgiving all. Together they celebrate ("I'm Nothing Without You") as the curtain falls.

Considerations

Performing Groups
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Large Stage
Cautions
  • Gun Shots
  • Mild Adult Themes

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Specifics

Details

  • Time Period: 1940s / WWII
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting:
    Los Angeles in the late 1940s.
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Casting

8f, 8m
Cast Attributes
  • Expandable casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
Hollywood Cast ... Movie Cast

(*denotes Singing Role)

Principals

Stine*, a writer of fiction … (Himself)
(Himself) … Stone*, Stine’s creation, Private Eye
Gabby*, Stine’s wife … Bobbi*, Stone’s ex-wife
Donna*, Buddy’s secretary … Oolie*, Stone’s secretary
Buddy Fidler*, movie director/producer … Irwin S. Irving, a movie mogul
Carla Haywood, Buddy’s wife ... Alaura Kingsley*, a femme fatale
Avril Raines, a starlet … Mallory Kingsely*, Alaura’s Stepdaughter
Jimmy Powers*, a movie crooner … Jimmy Powers*, a movie crooner

Angel City Four*, vocal quartet … Angel City Four*, vocal quartet

Supporting

Werner Kriegler, an actor … Luther Kingsley, Alaura’s husband
Gerald Pierce, an actor ... Peter Kingsley, Alaura’s stepson
Pancho Vargas, an actor … Lieutenant Munoz*, a police detective
Gene, an assistant director … Officer Pasco*, a policeman/Hospital orderly
Stand-in, a studio employee … Margaret, a maid at the Kingsleys'
Gilbert, a barber … Dr. Mandril, a religious leader
Studio Cop, a studio employee … Big Six, a thug
Studio Cop, a studio employee … Sonny, a smaller thug
Del Dacosta, a songwriter … Mahoney*, a reporter/Hospital orderly
Cinematographer (Jack), a studio employee …Harlan Yamato*, county coroner
Shoeshine, a studio employee … Commissioner Gaines, police commissioner
Hairdresser, a studio employee/Anna a masseuse … Margie, a brothel keeper

Small speaking roles from chorus:

Act I, Scene 7 (Movie)
Radio Announcer's Voice (OS)

Act I, Scene 10 (Movie)
Man's Voice (OS), Cocktail Lounge M.C.

Act II, Scene 1 (Hollywood)
Recording Studio Engineer

Act II, Scene 3 (Movie)
Guard, L.A. County Jail

Act II, Scenes 14 & 15 (Movie)
Girl, a hooker
Bootsie, a hooker

Act II, Scene 19 (Hollywood)
Nephew, to Buddy, studio employee
Studio Prop Man
Studio Sound Man
Studio Clapperboy

Non-speaking roles from chorus:

Act I, Scene 10 (Movie)
SMALL CROWD, patrons in the Cocktail Lounge

Act 1, Scene 12 (Hollywood)
Man, on the phone in a booth

Act I, Scene 14 (Movie)
Butler, Kingsley household staff

Act I, Scene 18 (Movie)
Man, photographer w/ flash camera

Act II, Scene 1 (Hollywood)
Crowd of Guests, at Buddy’s brunch
Piano Player, guest at Buddy’s brunch

Act II, Scene 19 (Hollywood)
Movie, Cast & Crew – Full Company
Bill, a lighting technician

Music

  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway, Jazz
  • Dance Requirements: Easy
  • Vocal Demands: Difficult
  • Orchestra Size: Large
  • Chorus Size: Large

Act I

1. Prologue: “City of Angels Theme” – Angel City Four
1a. Stone on Gurney: City of Angels Theme – Orchestra
2. Stone’s Office: City of Angels Theme – Orchestra
3. Alaura’s Theme No. 1 – Orchestra
4. “Double Talk (Stone)” – Stone
4a. “Double Talk (Alaura & Stone)” – Alaura & Stone
4b. Alaura’s Exit: Alaura’s Theme – Orchestra
4c. “Double Talk (Buddy)” – Buddy
4d. “Double Talk (Stine)” – Stine
4e. Garden of Allah: Alaura’s Theme – Orchestra
5. “What You Don’t Know About Women” – Gabby & Oolie
6. “Stay With Me (Pre-Recorded)” – J. Powers & Angel City Four
7. “You Gotta Look Out For Yourself (Pre-recorded)” – Angel City Four
7a. “You Gotta Look Out For Yourself” – J. Powers & Angel City Four
7b. Look Out, Stone: You Gotta Look Out For Yourself – Orchestra
8. “The Buddy System” – Buddy
8a. After Buddy: The Buddy System – Orchestra
8b. Flashback To Breath: SFX – Orchestra
9. “With Every Breath I Take” – Bobbi
9a. After-With Ev’ry Breath – Orchestra
9b. Sucker’s Wobble: City of Angels Theme – Orchestra
9c. Donna A Baiser: What You Don’t Know About Women – Orchestra
10. Pay Phone: L.A. Blues &7 The Buddy System – Orchestra
10a. Alaura’s Rubdown: Alaura’s Theme – Orchestra
10b. Multiple Doors: Alaura’s Theme – Orchestra
11. “The Tennis Song” – Alaura & Stone
12. “Everybody’s Gotta Be Somewhere” – Stone & Angel City Four
13. “Lost and Found” – Mallory
13a. Lost and Found: Furniture – Orchestra
14. Flash Pictures: City of Angels Theme – Orchestra
15. Stone Surrenders: SFX – Orchestra
15a. Underscore: With Ev’ry Breath – Orchestra
16. Buddy’s Massage: City of Angels Theme – Orchestra
17. Morgue No. 2: City of Angels Theme – Orchestra
18. “All You Have To Do Is Wait” – Munoz with Male Trio (Pasco, Mahoney, & Yamato)
19. “You’re Nothing Without Me” – Stone & Stine

Act II

20. Entr’acte: City of Angels Theme & “Stay With Me” – J. Powers & Angel City Four
21. “Stay With Me No. 2” – J. Powers & Angel City Four
22. “Stay With Me No. 3 (Pre-recorded)” – J. Powers & Angel City Four
22a. Jail Cell No. 1: City of Angels Theme – Orchestra
23. “You Can Always Count On Me” – Oolie/Donna
24. Nondescript Noodle: You Can Always Count On Me – Piano Solo Underscore
24a. “Double Talk (Brunch)” – Buddy & Chorus
24b. More Nondescript: All You Have To Do Is Wait – Piano Solo Underscore
24c. What You Don’t Know About Women – Piano Solo Underscore
24d. Jail Cell No. 2: City of Angels Theme – Orchestra
24e. Lost and Found – Piano Solo Underscore
24f. The Tennis Song – Piano Solo Underscore
24g. All Tied Up: City of Angels Theme – Orchestra
24h. Stone’s Amazing Escape: City of Angels Theme – Orchestra
24j. Stay With Me (Party) – Piano Solo Underscore
24k. You Gotta Look Out For Yourself – Piano Solo Underscore
24l. Del Experiments: “Alaura’s Theme” – Chorus
25. “This Is Alaura’s Theme” – Chorus
25a. The Kiss: “Alaura’s Theme” – Chorus
25b. Shoot First: Double Talk – Orchestra
25c. New York City: It Needs Work – Orchestra
26. "It Needs Work" – Gabby
27. To Margie’s Place/Red Room: L.A. Blues – Orchestra
28. Duet: “With Ev’ry Breath I Take” – Stone & Bobbi
29. Oolie’s Last Telephone Call: Alaura’s Theme – Orchestra
30. Alaura’s Heartbeat: Alaura’s Theme – Orchestra
31. Three Gun Shots/Two Clients: Alaura’s Theme – Orchestra
32. “Funny” – Stine
32a. Stone’s Entrance – Orchestra
33. Fight With The Cops: You’re Nothing Without Me – Orchestra
34. “I’m Nothing Without You” – Stine, Stone, Gabby, & Full Company
35. Bows: I’m Nothing Without You – Orchestra
36. Exit Music: Double Talk – Orchestra

Full Orchestration

Violin I (optional)
Violin II (optional)
Viola (optional)
Cello (optional)
Bass – acoustic and electric

Reed I – Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet & Alto Sax
Reed II – Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet & Alto Sax
Reed III – Clarinet & Tenor Sax
Reed IV – Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Baritone Sax

Trumpets I & II (both double on Flugelhorn)
Trumpets III (doubles on Flugelhorn)
Trombone I (tenor)
Trombone II (bass)

Drums (trap set):

Bass Drum
Snare Drum (brushes/sticks/mallets)
Tom Toms (4)
Mark Tree
Triangles (2 sizes)
Gong
Wood Block
Cymbals:
Suspended
Ride
Sizzle/Crash
Hi-Hat (Sock)

Percussion (mallet instruments):

Gran Cassa
Timpani (2 pedal drums)
Conga Drums
Glockenspiel (hard & soft mallets)
Tubular Chimes
Vibraphone
Xylophone
Marimba
Castanets
Maracas
Tube Shaker
Suspended Cymbal (w/mallets)
Tam Tam
Triangle(s)
Mark Tree
Glass Wind Chimes
Wooden Wind Chimes
Cow Bell
Sandpaper Blocks
Temple Blocks (w/clave)
Typewriter (or Hotel) Bell

Keyboard I – Piano
Keyboard II – Synthesizer
Guitar – acoustic and electric (optional)

Materials

Scripts

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
1 Piano/Conductor Score
37 Libretto/Vocal Books
1 Reed 1
1 Reed 2
1 Reed 3
1 Reed 4
2 Trumpet 1&2
1 Trumpet 3
1 Trombone 1
1 Trombone 2
1 Drums
1 Percussion
1 Guitar
1 Keyboard 1
1 Keyboard 2
2 Violin 1
1 Violin 2
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass

Piano Only:
1 Piano/Conductor
40 Libretto/Vocal book

Additional Resources And Services Available

Media

Press

"A snappy, stylish film noir musical...a swan song to film noir and its backstage action, a gem of a show" - Jill Kyle-Keith, DC Theatre Scene

"One of my favorite musicals of the 1980s...for its sexy David Zippel and Cy Coleman score of siren-fueled ballads...[and] the plethora of droll lines in its potboiler of a book." - Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune

"One of the wittiest books ever written... [and] an effervescent score by Cy Coleman" - Michael Billington, The Guardian

"One would have to travel back to the 1960's - to Bye Bye Birdie, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Little Me - to find a musical as flat-out funny as City of Angels" - Frank Rich, The New York Times

"Has the epitome of an old-school book by Larry Gelbart and lines that don't go for easy laughs but more the slow burn of actual comedic sophistication." - Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune

"Energetic songs, beautiful design, and clever storytelling...one of the rare shows that entertains fans of both traditional musicals and more abstract dramas, a perfect combination for the commercial theatre." - Tom Williams, Chicago Critic

Music Samples

Videos

  • City of Angels - 1990 Tony Awards

  • City of Angels - 2015 Olivier Awards

  • City of Angels - Goodspeed Opera House 2011

  • "You Can Always Count On Me" Randy Graff, 1990

More videos +

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Authors

Cy Coleman

Cy Coleman (1929–2004) was born Seymour Kaufman in New York City to Eastern European Jewish parents, and was raised in the Bronx. A child prodigy, Coleman gave piano recitals at Steinway Hall, Town Hall and Carnegie Hall between the ages of six and nine. His educational background included classical ...

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Author

Larry Gelbart

David Zippel

David Zippel is a lyricist and director. His lyrics have won him the Tony Award, two Academy Award nominations, two Grammy Award nominations, and three Golden Globe Award nominations. His songs appear on over twenty-five million CDs around the world, and have been recorded by many great singers including Stevie Wond ...

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