REVIEW: City of Angels @ Garrick Theatre

Brian Butler March 15, 2020

Take a stressed-out novelist turned Hollywood scriptwriter called Stone, played with a smouldering coolness by Hadley

Fraser and bring to life his fictional detective Stine , all laid-back sex appeal and sarcasm in every vein, wonderfully portrayed   by Theo James.

It’s a terrific cocktail and in this re-creation of the hit Donmar Warehouse production , we get huge portions of sassy,classy, sexy jazz-hot song and dance and one of the wittiest scripts you’ll ever come across.

The creative trio are a dream team – Larry Gelbart’s inventive book is matched by Cy Coleman’ s luscious, velvety ,sexy score and David Zippel’s witty, sarcastic ,sassy lyrics.

Josie Rourke’s stylish, slick direction and Brighton-based choreographer Stephen Mear’s deft craftsmanship combine with the best singing you will currently hear on the West End stage . All the principals are outstanding and the song and dance quartet ensemble have their moments in the sun thanks to Mear’s inventiveness on what is not a big musical theatre stage space.

The dance and movement is integral to the story and it’s adventurous, challenging ,camp and sensuous , combining the jazz rhythms and laid-back sounds of the musicians, led by Mark Aspinall.

Robert Jones’ set is stunning – at timers minimalist Art Deco but for the most made up of towering piles of film scripts high into the flies above the stage .

City of Angels is a musical theatre homage to the golden days of Tinseltown and the genre of film noir and a truly under-rated musical in a category of its own.

Theo James is a darkly handsome private eye in the self-deprecating style of Philip Marlowe . Hadley Fraser as his creator is witty, also self-critical but with a strong sexy attraction to the women he encounters. They both have magnificent singing ranges and are up to the machine-gun  rate of lyrics that they have to deliver. Their duet “ You’re Nothing without Me “ is a total show-stopper.

The show boasts really strong female roles . Rosalie Craig as ther writer’s wife and true detective’s ex-mistress is bold, brassy and larger than life. Vanessa Williams is visually and vocally stunning as the scheming heiress Alaura and ex-Girls Aloud member Nicola Roberts is outstanding as the missing girl around him the plot revolves.

Virus-permitting, the show is a sure-fire hit in its short run until September . Bound to be Broadway-bound in my view once the world settles down.

City of Angels is at the Garrick Theatre, London.  For more info or to book tickets check out the website here