Friday, 27 June 2014

City Of Angels

Stratford Circus, London


Music by Cy Coleman
Lyrics by David Zippel
Book by Larry Gelbart
Directed by Sarah Redmond

Alex Gilchrist, Tom Self & Charlotte Allchorne

There is clearly an appetite in London right now for Hollywood in the 1940's. As The Drowned Man takes its last gasps over in Paddington and the Donmar is already sold out for its star-studded City Of Angels in the Autumn, those canny folk at Trinity Laban recognised that the Coleman, Zippel and Gelbart's Tony-winning nod to Tinseltown would prove excellent fare for their 3rd year Musical Theatre students. Stratford Circus made for an engaging venue in which visionary director Sarah Redmond was able to put her graduates through their paces.

As the time and genre demands, the show was heavy on the noir. Billed as a musical comedy the plot weaves in front of and behind the camera as struggling writer Stine, battles it out with his Corona typewriter and a typically megalomaniac director/producer, channelling his frustrations through the scripted twists and turns that befall fictional private-eye Stone. 

The mature themes of adultery, revenge, oversized egos and murder were at times challenging to such a youthful cast and the production was generally at its best with ensemble numbers or duetted songs. David-Jon Ballinger was every inch the movie mogul Buddy, whilst particularly impressive were Alex Gilchrist and Tom Self as Stine and Stone. Both men respectively nailed their parts with the closing numbers to each half of the show, You're Nothing Without Me and I'm Nothing Without You each song a celebration of two strident voices. Amongst the ladies Cathy Joseph and Bethany Wilson's double act of What You Don't Know About Women proved a spine-tingling, perfectly weighted duet. Redmond also coaxed nuggets of delight in a raft of cameo performances that were sprinkled throughout her ensemble. 

A stirring aspect of the production was the 20+ piece band, drawn from Trinity Laban students under Tony Castro's direction. The predominantly brassy sound was beautifully easy on the ear, adding a depth to the show's orchestration rarely encountered in student productions. 

A brave choice of show for sure, but with their take on City Of Angels, Trinity Laban's class of '14 spread their wings impressively.

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