Theatre Review: City of Angels – Life Like Company – Arts Centre Melbourne (Performances to November 8th)

Before you all start to fantasize about Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan, I must tell you; this musical is not the stage adaptation of the 1998 film of the same name. But, I can assure you it is just as juicy, just as sexy and just as heartfelt.

City of Angels is all about the 1940s in the age of film noir and it is incredible how accurate it felt to be transported back to that time with this stellar cast. Opening with a scatting quartet harmoniously writhing to the sexy licks of all those jazzy sounds we pine for confirmed that this was going to be right up my alley. The scene was set. I was in the 1940s and I loved every minute being there.

Where do I start? The beginning seems fitting, but the whole three-hour fantastical experience warrants so much of my praise it is almost impossible to articulate how much of a success this show was.

Allow me to congratulate the cast of 13 for their undeniable talent and dedication to what really is a show like no other. To play out two plotlines simultaneously depicting reality and fantasy is no easy task, but with the clever use of instant rewind, it meant we could be taken on a journey both from the perspective of Mr Stine and Mr Stone. Confused yet? Don’t be.

Kane Alexander and Anton Berezin are superb leads as Mr Stone and Mr Stine, and showcase not only their vocal prowess, but also their humour and warmth. Amanda Harrison as Donna and Oolie is just divine; there really are not enough words to convey the sheer class she brings to the stage. Chelsea Plumley as Gabby and Bobbi is equally as entrancing and shows just how seasoned a performer she is.

The pacing of the show was quick to match the witty banter and melodramatic scenes playing out in the true film noir styling. Troy Sussman, Anne Wood, Rohan Browne, Hannah Fredericksen and Adam Fiorentino brought to life their various characters chopping and changing between accents and characters, sometimes even right before our very eyes on stage. Very clever and very sneaky.

The direction by Martin Croft was superb as he really captured the wickedly comedic and farcical nature of this Larry Gelbart show, and with musical direction by Kellie Dickerson, the seductive tunes of this hit Broadway musical filled the Playhouse Theatre and had me singing the songs even after the final bow.

It is such a shame that City of Angels is only running for a very short season. Let’s just hope Life Like Company have a return season of it so we can get lost in this film noir world all over again.

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Performances are on until November 8 but for more information visit https://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/musicals/city-of-angels.

The reviewer attended the show on opening night November 5. Photos supplied and used with permission.

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