Tuesday, October 04, 2011

City of Angels

Friday, we saw City of Angels at the Goodspeed Opera House. It wasn't the best show I've seen there. I was surprised to find that it was written in the 1980's by Cy Coleman, when "he suddenly realized that
no one had written a ‘40s bebop and big band-infused crime fiction musical." What an omission! The story was a little muddled, mixing the film noir screenplay story (complete with a flashback within a flashback, AND too many scenes in the morgue) with the screenwriter's story (he's a sellout, and Hollywood is full of bozos).

Then there were the women. Sure, there were plenty of female characters, but they were all bogus. The detective's assistant was a good character, ignored by all the other characters. The woman who hired the detective was a sexy gold-digger; the woman she hired him to find entered the story through a strip tease and didn't do much after that. In the screenwriter's story, he cheated on his wife (who forgave him too easily), and he treated his mistress like a toy. If this were a 1940's musical, I could forgive this. But it was written in the '80s!

The good part was the music. It was mostly swing, and there was a quartet at the beginning that made beautiful harmonies. The composer (Coleman) did something sneaky with some of the songs: he wrote them so that the vocals sound like instruments. I don't know how, but it has something to do with the rhythm and the melody... You get a taste of it near the end of this clip, but the song ends much stronger. Also, K and I sang this song in our chorus a few seasons back.

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