Book by Larry Gelbart
Music by Cy Coleman
Lyrics by David Zippel

INFO:

Opened at the Virginia Theatre    December 11, 1989    879 performances
Original Director: Micahel Blakemore
Original Choreographer: Walter Painter
Original Producer: Nick Vanoff, Roger Berlind, Jujamcyn Theatres, Suntory Int. Corp., The Schubert Organization
Original Leads: Stone: James Naughton    Stine: Gregg Edelman    Oolie/Donna: Randy Graff    Irwin S Irving/Buddy: Rene Auberjonois
Cast Size: Male: 6    Female: 5    Ensemble: 16 and up    Total Cast Size: 27 and up
Orchestra: 19 (with 4, the strings, optional.)
Published Script: Applause
Production Rights: Tams Witmark
Recordings: The original Broadway, and original West End.
Film: None.
Other shows by the authors: Gelbart: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum    Coleman: Wildcat, Little Me, Sweet Charity, I Love My Wife, Barnum, On The Twentieth Century
Awards: Nominated for 10 Tonys, winner of 6 including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Leading Actor (Naughton), Featured Actress (Graff).

WHO SHOULD DO THIS SHOW:

An interesting show for some colleges and universities, large and established regional theaters with a pro talent pool, and professional production resources.

Be Warned:

The kind of show that requires a great deal of pre-production prep to get right. Not a good show to insert into a season, it’s too much work, and eats too many resources.

This is a large, difficult, edgy show. The utmost professionalism in direction, musical execution, set design and performance is required to pull it off. If that doesn’t sound like your company, this isn’t a good show for you.

There’s a strong sexual element to the piece, a 40′s noir detective who gets every woman he meets, oif he wants them. (Usually not, he’s got his own rules.) This element is more than subtle. If your audience or actors will be uncomfortable with it, do another show.

THE STORY: (Synopsis by Marc Kirkeby, from the cast album)

ACT ONE: Los Angeles, the 1940s. In Black & White. The set (half architecture, half movie poster) extends into the theatre, and a musical “Prologue: Theme From City of Angels” incorporates orchestra, scat vocals, and a suitably world-weary voice-over by Stone (James Naughton) that plunges us into the realm of 1940s detective movies.

As the curtain rises, Stone lies on a hospital gurney with a bullet in his shoulder and a lot on his mind. A tough private eye in the tradition of Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade, Stone also suffers from a bruised heart (owing to a weakness for beautiful women) and an empty wallet (he’s too moral to take dishonest jobs).

Stone flashes back to a week earlier, when his secretary-with-a-heart-of-gold, Oolie (Randy Graff), ushered in a rich, beautiful woman named Alaura (Dee Hoty). Alaura claims she wants Stone to find her missing stepdaughter; against his better judgment he takes the case. And just as we’re becoming intrigued…

A man at a typewriter appears on stage, and the actors are suddenly backing up, “rewinding,” and playing the scene with a few changes. The man, we discover, is Stine (Gregg Edelman), author of popular detective novels starring Stone, one of which he is now adapting for his first screenplay. What we’ve seen comes straight from his imagination.

Like Stone, Stine has a weakness for women, but fewer scruples when it comes to money. At the moment, the money is coming from Buddy Fidler (Rene Auberjonois), Hollywood mogul and master puppeteer of creative people. Something’s telling Stine to watch out, but for now, he’s just enjoying the ride (“Double Talk”).

Back at Stine’s hotel room, we learn that the misgivings come mostly from his wife, Gabby (Kay McClelland), who wishes Stine would stick to novels. He won’t listen, though, any more than Stone will, and we begin to see the interplay between “reality” and fiction as Gabby and Oolie lament “What You Don’t Know About Women.”

The mystery resumes, with Stone, alone in his dreary bungalow, listening to crooner Jimmy Powers (Scott Waara) and the Angel City 4 (Peter Davis, Amy Jane London, Gary Kahn, Jackie Presti) brightly telling their radio audience, “You Gotta Look Out for Yourself” – which takes on a certain poignancy when two hoods break down his door and beat him up.

Cut to Buddy reading this scene in the screenplay: we see that his secretary, Donna, is the model for Oolie, and that Buddy can’t help “fiddling” with everything (“The Buddy System”).

And back to Stone, out cold, being rudely awakened by LAPD Lt. Muñoz (Shawn Elliott), who was Stone’s partner on the force but now bears him a major grudge. Stone, it seems, loved a low-rent lounge singer named Bobbi (Stine has based her on Gabby), whom we see performing a torchy ballad (“With Every Breath I Take”). But Bobbi wanted stardom more than marriage, and when Stone caught her with a Hollywood producer (based of course on Buddy), tempers flared, a gun went off, and the producer was dead of a “heart attack” caused by two bullets. Muñoz has never forgiven Stone for “getting away” with the murder, and would gladly nail him for jaywalking.

Stone, angry about the beating, confronts Alaura at her mansion and meets several more unsavory characters, including her lustful stepson, her war-profiteer husband (an elderly man stricken with polio and encased in an iron lung), and the quack spiritualist who attends him. Greed and malice hover like smog, but Alaura’s considerable charms (and bankroll) keep Stone on the case (“The Tennis Song”).

Stone fruitlessly pursues the “missing” stepdaughter, Mallory (the scatted “Ev’rybody’s Gotta Be Somewhere”), in a scene that recalls a film montage, only to find her (Rachel York) waiting naked in his bed (the provocative “Lost and Found”). Stone somehow manages to resist temptation … which is more than can be said for his creator.

His wife having returned to New York, Stine takes comfort in Donna’s bed, although not without some guilt. But this is Hollywood, after all, where no one’s motives are pure … as Stone quickly learns, when a photographer breaks in, snaps him with Mallory, and she runs off with his gun, which is used to murder the quack. Stone finds himself framed for the killing and gleefully arrested by Muñoz (the sardonic “All You Have to Do Is Wait”).

Not that Stine is having such a great time, either. Buddy is butchering his script, his conscience is nagging, and Stone, his own creation, is disgusted with him. The curtain falls with each of them arguing, to a swinging big-band accompaniment (“You’re Nothing Without Me”).

ACT II: A recording studio, where Jimmy Powers and the Angel City 4 are waxing “Stay With Me,” which then becomes a record playing in … whose bedroom? It looks like Alaura’s, but proves to belong to Carla Haywood, Buddy’s wife, who’ll play Alaura in the movie.

Stone, meanwhile, languishes in jail, attended only by Oolie, who like her alter ego, Donna, is feeling used by men (the brassy “You Can Always Count on Me”). Stone is mysteriously bailed out, but the two hoods catch up with him and nearly blow him up before he neatly turns the tables.

Stine has troubles of his own. Lonely at a lavish Hollywood party of Buddy’s sycophants, including a typical Hollywood composer (the lush “Alaura’s Theme”), Stine calls home only to find that Gabby has discovered his affair with Donna. He flies to New York with an elaborately prepared excuse, but she’s not buying (“It Needs Work”).

Stone, fighting now to clear his name, is led to a brothel (“L.A. Blues”) where he is stunned to find Bobbi. We learn it was she who shot the producer; Stone has been covering for her all this time. Together they face the wreckage of their love (“With Every Breath I Take”).

Oolie, meanwhile, has made her own discovery: Alaura is a fortune hunter who has already murdered one rich husband and planned to do away with this one, once she had eliminated his son, daughter, and doctor. Stone confronts her at the mansion; they grapple for her gun; shots ring out … and Alaura falls dead, Stone is gravely wounded, and we’re back where we started.

But where does that leave Stine? His wife has rejected him, his lover, Donna, has (he learns) also been rewriting his script; Stine faces the collapse of his real and fictive worlds, and as his emotions take over, his wit turns bitter (“Funny”).

When he arrives on the movie set to find that Buddy’s name appears above his on the screenplay, and that the shallow crooner Jimmy Powers will play Stone, Stine boils over. With the “real” Stone, his conscience, finally leading him to make the right choice, he rages at Buddy, gets himself fired, and is about to be pounded by two security guards when – in the imagination all things are possible – Stone somehow appears at Stine’s typewriter and writes him the fighting skills of a superhero, then tacks on a “Hollywood ending” in which Gabby returns, forgiving all. Together they celebrate (“I’m Nothing Without You”) as the curtain falls.

The evening doesn’t end there: we leave as we entered, with the band swinging (“Epilogue: Theme from City of Angels” and “Double Talk Walk”) to an emphatic coda. The great 52nd Street jazz clubs are history, but like no show before it, City of Angels deserves to play on “Swing Street.”

THE SONGS:

“Prologue”, “Double Talk”, “What You Don’t Know About Women”, “Ya’ Gotta Look Out For Yourself”, “The Buddy System”, “With Every Breath I Take”, “The Tennis Song”, “Ev’rybody’s Gotta Be Somewhere”, “Lost And Found”, “All Ya’ Have To Do Is Wait”, “You’re Nothing Without Me”, “Stay With Me”, “You Can Always Count On Me”, “It Needs Work”, “Funny”

MY OPINIONS:

As always, feel free to ignore or skip my opinions and rating. Just don’t be surprised if the critics are less than angelic.

This is a clever show. It shouts “aren’t we clever” at the audience. It’s smart and fun, in every department, but that’s all it is. And that is enough to entertain, sometimes very well.

For me, I have to say, I get weary of “clever” for clever’s sake, quick. I particularly grow tired of percolating jazz riffs lacking any true emotional core or reason to exist. Cy Coleman is not good at genuine emotion. He leans heavily toward a very theatrical expression of a semblance of emotion. (He shares this approach with other writers of the period like Kander & Ebb, and to some extent, the estimable Mr. Sondheim. It works to varying effect for them.) Mr. Coleman’s music is almost always clever, cerebral, and close to heartless, and this score is not an exception. When the score attempts any genuine emotion, it becomes overwrought and plastic. His musical sensibility works well when the show does not call for actual emotion, but rather for a film noir shorthand of emotion, a representation of filmic sentiment that is high-energy, over the top and all in fun. That’s a lot of this show. Mr. Coleman’s music is not very memorable in this (or any) show outside of a few pieces in each show (as is true of each of his shows), but it has its own consistent brand of electricity, cool and brainy and retro. A mixed bag in each of his theatrical creations, to be sure. His work works better here than in most of his other shows. It fits the piece closer, and is more useful in energizing it than in, say, Sweet Charity, or Barnum, where he is working too hard to create an effect.

Mr. Zippel’s lyrics share many of the same strengths and weaknesses as the music. They are sometimes forced, addicted to rhymes for the sake of rhyming. I do understand the temptation to show off how clever one is as a lyricist, given this sort of assignment. It adds to the smartness of the show, but also is distancing, and cold. Meaning gets pushed down to second priority, character development to a distant third. He is undeniably talented, and some of his work really grabs the attention of the listener. But not always for the reason that the words are forwarding the story or our understanding of the characters.

The script has lots of really clever, funny lines. We expect nothing less of Larry Gelbart, the creator of M*A*S*H, and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. It’s a sort-of clever idea, the juxtaposing of a writer with a character he’s created, though hardly original. Using noir as the “genre” to express this idea is also clever and fun. Mr. Gelbart is a fine and funny writer. That said, I think the script shares some of the problems of the score. It seems to me to be a little confused, overwritten, baroque. It works well enough as a rule, until the end when it concludes very conveniently, if awkwardly. The show tries to make an asset of its dues-ex-machine ending (Stine’s imagination takes over in the real world…) of its ending, and only modestly succeeds.

So the writing of this piece, its construction, is not perfect. Almost no Musical can claim a perfectly composed script and score, it is very, very rare. But few musicals worth doing are this problematic, with productions as well that require massive resources like this one. To tackle this will require both expertise, and a love of what the show does, and what it tries to do. It is a better-than-average show. It’s also a very difficult one to pull off.

The Director for a production of City Of Angels is going to need to find some reason other than “wow, that’s cool” for an audience to care about Stine and Stone, and their various amores. Is Stine a great writer, waiting for his genius to crest like the sun over the dark hills of Hollywood producer hell? Is Stone an essentially good man in a bad business? Are these men worthy of the love they receive or desire from others? Are we to root for Stine to grow up and stop having affairs while he has a perfectly lovely, intelligent, loving wife at home? The Director (and his associates) will need to make the audience answer these questions in the affirmative if anyone is to care for the show. Either that, or you’ll need to dazzle the audience with theatrical fireworks, as the original production did in its design and performances.

Both would be preferable.

MY RATING: * (A better-than-average and interesting show, right for many groups.)

PRODUCTION CONCERNS AND IDEAS:

DIFFICULTY OF MUSIC:

Coleman’s background was as a jazz musician, and this score is heavily oriented toward jazz, of the sort the Manhattan Transfer was well known for at the time, but edgier, looser in form. To play this score, you will need a very good understanding of jazz, know your theater forms, and be an exceptional musician. The songs are shaped in unusual ways, and vocals are sometimes treated as jazz instruments would be. A very hard score to teach and learn, and to play, requiring an expert Musical Director.

If your cast is comfortable with jazz, so much the better.

Stine – Lyric baritone with some strong, serious high notes and a good belt.

Stone – Baritone with attitude, in the film noir sense. Character-driven, a decent belt. Must be able to present a smooth, sophisticated tone when called for.

Buddy/Irwin – Character baritone, decent singer, better actor.

Donna/Oolie – Alto, very good belt, expressive voice.

Gabby/Bobby – Mezzo with an excellent approach to blues and an outstanding emotional belt.

Clara/Alaura – Mezzo.

Avril/Mallory – Alto. Pure theater voice, clear and warm.

Pancho/Munoz – Baritone, character-driven voice.

Jimmy Powers – Tenor, a crooner in the 40s school.

Angel City 4 – A tight quartet in the Manhattan transfer/40s school, alto-soprano-baritone-tenor.

Ensemble – All should sing well, harmonize well.

DIFFICULTY OF DANCE, CHOREOGRAPHIC CONCERNS:

This show is inherently kinetic. The music darts and bubbles with jazz figures that change unpredictably, in the same way the book does with its story points, bouncing back and forth between the fantasy of Stone (which is often the more interesting of the two), and the real-world escapades of Stine in Hollywood.

Your Choreography should also separate out into the two worlds. The noir material should be text book 40′s movie fantasy put to dance and song. Black & White, Casablanca on speed, the numbers that fit this paradigm should be brutal, abrupt, cold, distant, brilliant, staged, and dangerous.

In the real world, Stine is less than scintillating, though he is, well, clever. His life is certainly more mundane and square than Stones, and the movement should feel that way – simpler, un-stylized, more direct in its emotional expression.

That said, overall, there’s not a lot of room for “dance” here, rather than movement. Numbers must keep the story moving forward relentlessly – there is a lot of story to tell.

Numbers a Choreographer may be involved in include “Prologue”, “What You Don’t Know About Women”, “Ya’ Gotta Look Out For Yourself”, “The Tennis Song”, “Ev’rybody’s Gotta Be Somewhere”, “Lost And Found”, “All Ya’ Have To Do Is Wait”, “You’re Nothing Without Me”, and “Stay With Me”.

There are two numbers done as a part of radio broadcasters, performed by a crooner and a quartet. These are “Ya’ Gotta Look Out For Yourself”, and “Stay With Me”. These numbers are imitations of radio broadcasts done in front of live audiences, from the 40s. The singers are restricted to the mics, limiting the possible movement. Within that limit, they should be theatrical, fun, and correct for the period. There are many such numbers that were filmed during the period, and you can borrow good ideas from them.

“Prologue” is a jazz fantasia establishing the noir feel and genre in musical and visual terms, and setting the story in motion. The quartet that does the very tight, difficult vocalise are not going to be able to do a lot of movement while singing this piece. The mood should be created by using other actors, passing through Black & White shadows in a noir fantasy of danger and seduction. Fun and intrigue are what you’re going for. Let the music carry the kinetics of the moment, and the movement be crafted, thoroughly staged, with a jagged and dangerous feel.

“The Tennis Song” is a noir-book song, a duet of sexual by-play between a young-ish married seductress and our moral, hard-boiled private dick, Stone. The lyric is filled with double-entendre, clever and at the same time, groan-inducing. Movement should be hard-edged, a seduction played out by two people who know the rules, know all the tricks. But we must hear the words to get the jokes, and the movement should amplify rather than get in the way of the lyrics. This is a Musical Comedy comedy number.

You know what I just said about the last song? It goes double for “Lost And Found”, another seduction. Only this time the girl is found naked in the Detective’s bed in his apartment, waiting for him. We obviously can’t see her naked, and part of the fun (titillation) will include how you stage this for her to seduce Stone (and the audience) without revealing the merchandise. She is athletic, determined, and her movements should be surprising to the audience and Stone. Get laughs from this one.

“All Ya’ have To Do Is Wait” is another book song built into the noir story. Sung by a detective who hates Stone, it is an essay in emotional abuse, as Stone is in cuffs and cannot defend himself. The number is brutal, it isn’t funny. (I hope it wasn’t meant to be, if so, it’s a misfire.) It works even better if other cops stand around and watch, probably. The number should build sympathy for Stone. No dance at all, here, and this may just be staged by the Director.

The two worlds collide several times in the score, in “What You Don’t Know About Women”, and “You’re Nothing Without Me”. The first involves women in love with both our heroes, fictional and real. It is a stock woman’s complaint, sung by women ignored and forgotten. You’ll need to keep the two worlds from touching or making contact. These are not women who “know” each other in any way. They are women speaking for all women, sharing a common gripe. It can be funny, but should not become strident or too filled with self-pity. We need to like these women. Their complain is just, they are sure of themselves, capable and strong.

“You’re Nothing Without Me” is the one point before the end of the show where the two worlds make direct contact. Stone and Stine have it out, each feeling the other is meaningless without him. The stage should fill with these two men, who are not exactly polarities, but rather shadows of each other. This number ends the act. There should be something shocking about these two worlds connecting, even for the characters. Did they know they could do that? The men can circle each other, violate their worlds, perhaps touch…but the song is an expression of disdain, and you can keep the contact out of it until the end of Act II, when they unite.

A job for a reasonably experienced Choreographer, one good at telling a story and developing characters through comic and other movement. But not one of your harder assignments. And given the need for some rather difficult vocalization, you’re not likely to have many dancers to work with.

CASTING CONCERNS:

Stine – 30s-40s. Boyish, bright, smart, quick-witted, a writer in Hollywood not sure what he’s doing there, except collecting a big pay check. His integrity is in every way slippery, and he’s none too hard on himself for this fact. He writes garbage that he knows is garbage, has affairs behind his loving wife’s back, and is in almost every way not admirable. Yet we must root for him to get it together, we must sense in him a genius waiting to be born. The actor should be immediately likeable, and attractive – he gets the girls. Cast for voice, type, acting, some movement, in that order. Must be strong at everything.

Stone – Stine’s age and alter-ego. Tough, hard-boiled, impossibly good at snapping out one-line comebacks that unquestionably belong in a Raymond Chandler book. Smart, ruggedly handsome, but deeply ethical in his way. He has rules, and he believes in them, come what may. Bogart-like, always fair in his way (as we see with his secretary), able to take a beating and bounce back. Cast for type, acting, voice, some movement. A star.

Donna/Oolie – 20s-mid 30s. The secretaries. As Oolie, devoted, tough, edgy, quietly in love with the boss, an attractive girl working in the wrong office and stuck with it. Donna is a company girl in real life, who does whatever is needed to keep the troops in line for her boss, Buddy the Producer. Cast for type, acting, voice, some movement. Must be strong at everything.

Gabby/Bobby – Around Stinme/Stone’s age. The wife (Gabby) in real life, long-suffering, supportive, but at the breaking point. She has exhibited almost inhuman patience for Stine, because she truly believes in his ability, and his heart. We’re not sure why, but because she feels that way, it helps the audience to, as well. Bobby is the not-quite nice girl that got away from Stone, the love of his life who went wrong. Desperate to be a star, immoral, tough, self-involved, she ends up a high-priced hooker in Hollywood, as close to the movies as she will ever get. She has degraded, and lost some of what made her so desirable to Stone years ago. Attractive, a strong actress. Cast for acting, type, voice, some movement.

Buddy/Irwin – 40s-50s. In both worlds, a heel. A self-involved, obnoxious, womanizing, abusive, rather disgusting man without any morals, any integrity except to what will best serve him at a given moment. A master schmoozer (in his own mind), a legend in his own mind, powerful, dangerous, possessed of a temper. Cast for acting, type. Should sing a bit, but the acting comes first.

Carla/Alaura – 20s-30s. As Clara, Buddy’s wife. Slightly self-involved, an actress to be sure, but mature, aware of others, commanding. She knows her husband is the s**t of s**ts, and has long ago made her peace with the devil. As Alaura, sexually devastating, a predator, without any conscience, and a terrific phony with an ability to lie long-term. Cast for acting, type, voice, some movement.

Avril/Mallory – Late teens-early 20s. As Avril, a fairly air-headed, gorgeous up-and-coming actress who gets men up and…she will do anything for a career. Mallory is Alaura’s daughter in the noir story, young, aggressive, sexually free. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Cast for type, acting, voice, movement. Must be strong at everything.

Pancho/Munoz – 30-40. As Pancho, a kiss-ass Latino actor in Hollywood who has had some success. As Munoz, a tough street cop, unyielding, unforgiving, bitter, possibly brutal, but he attempts to stay inside the rules. Cast for acting, type, voice, some movement.

Barber/Dr. Mandril – 40s-50s. As the barber, a schlep with an opinion on everything. As Mandril, charismatic, a spiritual consultant, dark and mysterious. Cast for acting, type, some voice.

Jimmy Powers – A crooner, Hollywood 40s type, with aspirations to be a film actor, and very little ability as an actor. Cast for voice, type, acting, movement.

Angel City 4 – Four prototypical Hollywood types from 40s noir films, dancing and singing together as a tight quartet. Cast for voice, movement, types.

Ensemble – Hollywood types. All must sing, they should move a bit.

SETS:

The sets for the original Broadway are rather famous. A Black & White poster from the 40s of a noir movie came to life in front of us. And all color was reserved for the real world (except actor’s skin tones, of course).

The world of noir is full of sharp edges. Everything implied danger. Bricks, alleyways, big city, neon. This is as easily researched as watching a dozen of these films from the 40s, like Casablanca, Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity.

The “real” world is Hollywood, sort-of now. Swimming pools, movie stars. Palm trees, pampered producers, a phony world of its own.

The contrast should be clear and compelling. I don’t believe there’s a unit set inside this show. But you can get by in the fantasy noir sequences with B&W and gray-scale cutaways. The first scene, the “hospital”, is just isolated in a pool of light, probably center, nurses and others passing in the shadows.

Stone’s Office can be two desks, two chairs, a door between them with glass on it, and his name painted on it. Again, isolated light will do. Perhaps these two scenes can be placed in front of the giant poster of the noir film that’s being made, so we know where we are.

Next, Buddy’s real world office. Color, a real wall, a window looking out on a pool and palm tree. Two comfy chairs, another desk. Place this on the opposite side of the stage from Stone’s office and leave his office up for the next scene, transitioning with lighting.

Stine’s bedroom, placed where Buddy’s office was during the Stone scene. A bed in a nice Hollywood hotel, a dresser, a mirror. Again, a wall with tasteless art, and a window looking out over a pool and palm tree.

Stone’s place, and a radio studio. The studio is a mic, isolated in a pool of light, Stone’s is a bed for one, a rundown coat rack and dresser. The studio can be center, and the set up for Stone’s room can take place as the song is performed. Restore Buddy’s office for the next scene, and leave Stone’s place up.

The cocktail lounge can be played center, a few tables and chairs danced on, a solo light picking up Bobbi, with Stone caught in the spill as he sits. Her dressing room be rolled in at the front center, cutting off the scene behind it of the lounge, which can be moved off. It can consist of a seedy free-standing wall and door, a make-up table and mirror.

Stine’s “office” can be a small desk and computer, today. Place it in a corner of the stage, front, and move on the Kingsley mansion. A lowered chandelier, perhaps even a staircase center that’s rolled on, all B&W. The “solarium” is another room in the mansion. Remove the staircase, replacing it with a glass wall floor to ceiling, lowered from the rafters.

The search that follows takes place in pools of light, random meetings in places established by characters rather than objects. During this scene, clear the stage to put up Stone’s place on one side, Donna’s bedroom on the other.

Donna’s bedroom is in a decent apartment, tidy, professional. The bed is large enough for two comfortably. To Stone’s bungalow again from there.

The Morgue, the first thing we saw, a dark place center, established by men or women in white coats. During this scene, again replace Donna’s with Buddy’s office, as before. Then, back to center and the morgue. End Act I.

(I know, this reads like a traffic cop, but the show has a lot of sets.)

Continue this back and forth patterning for Act II. Establish locations with as little as possible in way of furniture, and flats. Flats will need to be dropped in, you’ll need flies and a good grid system. For each set, less will be more.

This show requires an expert Set Designer and crew, and you’ll need to get an early start.

COSTUMES:

Two worlds again, modern Hollywood (flowered shirts, T-shirts, women overdressed to meet Producers who are slobs and do not care). The noir world of the 40s, easily researched as mentioned above. A lot of costumes! And the noir stuff must all be B&W and gray-scale. The women in the noir world must all look pretty damned good in white and black. Get the shoes right!

Most of the costumes for the noir scenes will probably need to be rented or built, because of the limits in color and styles. The Hollywood stuff, modern, is rather easy, and can be purchased off the rack in many places, found in closets and thrift stores. Get the shoes right!

No job for a beginner.

PROPS:

Hand guns (noir, period for the 40s), typewriter or computer, period phones for the noir scenes, many more props. Work closely with the director. All the noir props must be B&W or gray scale. No job for a novice.

LIGHTING:

Very complex! Lighting specific scenes to create a B&W and gray scale, with shadows, lighting other scenes warmer, more “real”, more Hollywood sunshine. Many scenes in isolated light with very limited spill. The lighting is as much a part of the set and the flow of the show as anything. A job for an expert with a lot of experience and a keen artistic and technical eye.

MAKE-UP:

Watch the lipstick and color in the noir characters! B&W and gray scale only. Wigs and hair must be right for the period characters.

The Hollywood characters can be tanned, and women made-up and a bit predatory. Again, a job for an experienced Make-Up artist.

KEY PERSONNEL (The ones you MUST get right.):

Director, Musical Director, Choreographer, Set Designer, Lighting Designer, Costume Designer, Make-Up Designer, Prop Master, Stone, Stine.

MY THOUGHTS:
This show is largely about design. The design must support, and indeed is, the concept in large part. You’ll want an excellent and experienced team of designers to work closely with your Director. The illusion of noir to Hollywood to noir must be near flawless.

A very tough show to get right. But I can see why audiences love it when it works.