The shady world of the film noir thriller and a killer score combine for this latest production from Threshold Theatre Company.
City of Angels weaves together the story of aspiring screenwriter Stine with that of Stone, his on-screen gumshoe alter-ego, with the two worlds interacting as the musical progresses through murders, double-crossings and obligatory heartache.
Jon Bennett as Stone is a class act, perfectly poised as the archetypal PI and a neat contrast to the more conflicted author Stine, played by Joseph Betts. Betts voice powers through, particularly in the penultimate number.
Kathryn Jones is perfectly cast as the femme fatale: icy and porcelain on the outside with a simmering heat in her eyes. And the dame’s got lungs too – as has Stephanie Moore in the dual role of Stine’s wife and Stone’s singer ex-squeeze. She is the linchpin of the show, switching effortlessly between modes and showing real vocal prowess.
James Webber as a control freak movie executive and Ian Chisholm as Lt Munoz provide comic relief, with some darkly humorous songs – it’s not often you hear ‘cyanide’ used in a rhyming couplet – and April Nash brings a worldly presence as Stone’s put-upon secretary.
City of Angels is a complex and challenging show technically: combining the real and ‘reel’ worlds, and live and recorded vocals, across 40 scenes. The opening night had some hiccups with sound balance and the shadowy film noir lighting sometimes looked like a missed cue, but these are minor gripes against the overall stylish and accomplished delivery. The 12-piece orchestra, led by Joe Ringer, was tight throughout – especially impressive given their cramped housing on top of the stage.
This is a rare chance to see this steamy, seedy, darkly funny musical, presented by a talented cast and crew.