Not to be confused with the 1998 movie of the same name starring Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage, City of Angels is a great example of the film noir genre of the 1940s, the era in which the play is set.
The plot is two-fold: an author named Stine (Jerry Cunningham) is writing the screenplay for his novel City of Angels. On one side of the stage, we see this scenario carried out. On the other side, the actual story of the screenplay takes place with Detective Stone (Ken Paul) hired by socialite Alaura Kingsley (Abby Apple Boes) to find her stepdaughter Mallory (Alix Brickley).
In true film noir style with appropriate 40s musical numbers, the plot thickens and changes as Stine writes and re-writes the scenes. The actors portraying Stine’s characters double as the people in his real life. By the second act, the play gets more muddled and nearly impossible to follow with its back-and-forth drama, clever as it is. Even the dialogue gets back-spaced in the screenplay scenes. Murder, intrigue, love affairs, racial issues, Hollywood politics. . .it’s all there.
The large cast delivers an adequate performance for this complex project. Stone’s role is a dead ringer for Sargent Joe Friday of the 50s TV series Dragnet, but Paul plays him with too little emotion. The ones to watch are Boes in her campy roles as Alaura and Carla, and Brickley as Mallory and Avril. Her sexy rendition of “Lost and Found” is a highlight.
City of Angels runs February 1 through March 3, 2013 at Vintage Theatre’s new location at 1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 80010. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, February 24 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 3 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 ($25 advance); senior, student and group discounts are available. Order tickets at 303-856-7830 or online at www.vintagetheatre.com.