City Of Angels

Declan Dowling
2nd Jul 2023


A stroke of Sunset Boulevard, a dab of Chinatown and a pallet knife loaded with Cy Coleman. Add a touch of M*A*S*H*’s Larry Gelbart on the book and David Zippel’s lyrics and you’ve got yourself a 6 time Tony Award© winning Best Musical. City of Angels plays at the Hayes Theatre Co. from 23 June to 23 July and the toe tapping jazz freak inside you knows you want to go to this delicious satirical noir romp.

City Of Angels follows novelist turned screenwriter ‘Stine’ and his celluloid creation ‘Stone’ as we duck and weave our way through both the world of Stine’s screenplay and the smoky, shuttered world of Stone’s histrionic noir dreamscape. Fat-cat studio executive and director ‘Buddy Fidler’ (as is suggested oh so subtly by his name) tampers with the integrity of Stine’s screenplay in preparation for its production and, like two ribbons unfurled in the wind, the two stories tangle themselves up in each other to glorious effect.

Director/Choreographer Sam Hooper returns to the show that broke his foot during his final year of study at VCA with a remarkably appropriate team of blossoming Sydney theatre creatives; Little Eggs Collective’s Julia Robertson (Assistant Director), Sydney Theatre Award Nominee Damon Wade (Musical Director), Multi Instrumentalist Conservatory graduate Abi McCunn (Musical Director), with sets by the design legend Simon Greer and Costuming by NIDA graduate Esther Zhong. Produced by Joshua Robson, this slick pageant of late 1940’s fantasy is a sure fire hit.

Hooper delivers the goods, sometimes with a flair, sometimes with a heavy hand, irregardless the show carries its weight well and lives up to its coveted reputation (as in this instance does the Hayes). McCunn and Wade have honed some of the sharpest musical talents in the Sydney theatre scene and further refined their edge. No easy task in the face of Cy Coleman’s infamously difficult score. Simon Greer has done it again with an elegant, charming and playful setting for the Hayes stage. While not quite the spectacle and visual feast of Metropolis, Greer certainly brings the City of Angels playfully to life.

Helmed by an impressive cast, City of Angels could have found its footing with any one of it’s laundry list of talented players. Led by Green Room Award nominee Glenn Hill as Stine and WAAPA graduate Aaron Tsindos as Stone the cast is very solid indeed. Marcus Riviera as Lt. Munoz shines through with his bold subtlety like the intricate scrollwork adorning the facade of a cathedral, the more you notice its delicate craftwork among the other sometimes overwhelming elements, the more you are drawn to it, away from the towering spires. Shannen Alyce Quan is a perpetual delight and mesmeric, likewise with Home and Away’s Penny McNamee who shines brightly. Particular mention must be extended to veteran actor Paul Hanlon as Fidler, for whom my praises ring to the rooftops, and from the glass and steel facades of the city shall they echo until everyone I know who doesn't already know him, will. Hanlon’s dexterity within what could become a dry stock-character-spoof was carried off with the ease of lifting a matchbook, and burnt with the fervor of the matches themselves.

Hip-hop-scat-sca-doo your way over to the Hayes Theatre Co. before 23 July to catch City of Angels. Cy Coleman’s masterpiece elevated to broad heights, albeit in the narrow, low space of the Hayes.

Photo Grant Leslie