City of Angels opened on Broadway at the Virginia Theatre on December 11, 1989 and closed on January 19, 1992 after 879 performances and 24 previews. A musical comedy with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by David Zippel, and book by Larry Gelbart. The musical weaves together two plots, the “real” world of a writer trying to turn his book into a screenplay, and the “reel” world of the fictional film. The musical is an homage to the film noir genre of motion pictures that rose to prominence in the 1940s
It won 6 Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Book of A Musical and Best Original Score and now a local production of this ambitious musical is being prepared to dazzle Vancouverites.
I asked Tim Perez who plays Lt. Munoz and Janet Gigliotti who is part of Angel City 4 (Manhatten Transfer Styled Group) that sings throughout the play and she also plays Sonny in the pre shot footage that will play in the live show, how they got involved and some of the highlights from rehearsals for the Canadian Premiere by The PIT Collective.
How did you get involved with production?
Tim: I was at home and got a call out of the clear blue sky and it was Jennifer Copping asking me if I would like to be in her cool show that she was producing and acting in and that she was assembling the hottest cast Vancouver… “The part I would play was originally played by Shawn Elliott.” This interested me, as I had done three plays with Shawn at the Mark Taper in LA. She asked me… “Can you sing” I said, “I can tell a story loudly” She said, “let’s, do it” I hung up the phone and smiled and then I said to myself, “holly fuck…I have never been in a musical before, what have I done!”
Janet: I was having dinner with Jenn Copping before we went to see a show opening and she mentioned City of Angels. I actually shouted across the table that I wanted to be involved because I have been very interested in this show for so many years. The concept, the time period, the music and the way it’s all put together made me a fan.
What is your favourite part that the audience should watch out for?
Janet: I’ve always loved that it’s written for most of the actors to play two different roles and how they move back and forth between the fictional ‘movie’ world and the ‘real ‘ world and how that is used to show us Stine’s state of mind.
What was a surprising challenge working on this show for you?
Janet: The MUSIC is so very, very difficult and intricate! Also, it’s a HUGE show! somehow I didn’t appreciate the scope of it before actually settling down to work on it.
Tim: The demands of getting in shape vocally and physically to sing and dance have been challenging. I have great respect for the artists who make it all look so easy… it is not.
City of Angels won 6 Tony Awards but is mostly forgotten by the general public – what is so special about it what will connect to a 2017 audience?
Janet: It’s really an escape to a pretend world that we’ve all read about in old novels. It’s fun and mysterious and has a lovely heightened aesthetic and we can immerse ourselves in TWO different worlds. It’s wonderful to lose ourselves in these two pretend worlds and to see them blend together. Who doesn’t want to ‘go on the lam’ and be lost in a different era for a couple of hours?
Tim: Many fabulous works of art have been forgotten by the public only to be discovered years later… Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton…The Three Stooges… Citizen Kane. It’s up to the Goddesses on how this musical will connect with an audience… But our brave show is attempting to fly close the sun… and that is the only way one can connect to an audience…
Who in the cast astonishes you during rehearsals and why?
Tim: I am not a dancer. I can move a little. Kind of like a falling block of ice, shaved off land in Antarctica by Global warming into the sea. I started out in theatre years ago as a mime. I was about 14 and my teacher was the stage partner to Marcel Marceau. I started a traveling act with another performer… She was 65 years old and from China. We called ourselves the “Silent Players” We did a lot of gigs. But, I’ve only done straight plays or drama in my career… in that time I have had the opportunity to sing and dance in some of them… I have had the great honor to have worked with Choreographers Garth Fagan, Doug Elkins, Donald Byrd, Naomi Goldberg and an amazing Latin dancer the incomparable Willy Marquez who taught Robert Duval how to Tango and Mambo in his films… Choreographer Ken Overbey has been a joy. Like the best choreographers he makes everything seem possible. He wants to dance! So I want to dance. His rehearsal is like being in one of those movies where kids get to capture in a bottle the essence of fun and put it in a jar. And when it’s time to let it go… ordinary things can become extraordinary. His rehearsals are not without great challenge…but in the solving of his challenges is where the performance is born.
Janet: Jenn and Sylvia and Chris are juggling so much and they are always respectful and inclusive and positive and encouraging and filled with great ideas.
What: Canadian premiere of the Broadway musical “City of Angels”
Where: Performance Works, Granville Island
When: July 8-17th 8:00 pm Saturday, July 15th Matinee 2:00 pm
REGULAR Ticket price: $40
Discounted tickets available for CAEA Members and students
Tickets available at: www.cityofangels.brownpapertickets.com
Photo credit: Rhonda Dent | www.rhondadent.com