THEATRE REVIEW: City Of Angels starring Vanessa Williams, Theo James, Hadley Fraser, Rosalie Craig, Rebecca Trehearn and Nicola Roberts at the Garrick Theatre

WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2

WHERE? Garrick Theatre RUNTIME: 160 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)

WHEN? 14/3, press night 24/3 booking to 5/9/20

The Donmar revival of this musical homage to the film noir genre of motion pictures that rose to prominence in the 1940s was one of the reasons the authors of this blog started writing monstagigz.

  • Read on for reasons including details of the West End debuts of Williams, Jones and Roberts

It was one of our first visits to the 251-seater Donmar Warehouse and the Cy Coleman, David Zippel and Larry Gelbert musical was far more transportive than we’d even dared hope.

It went on to win two Olivier Awards in 2015 (Best Musical Revival and Best Lighting, Olivier performance below) and three of its stars Rosalie Craig (Company, Gielgud Theatre), Hadley Fraser (Young Frankenstein, Garrick Theatre) and Rebecca Trehearn return in Josie Rourke’s (Sweet Charity, Donmar) transfer here.

But would the magical intimacy of the Donmar be found quite so easily in the 800-seater Garrick?

Elsewhere there are West End debuts from Vanessa Williams, Theo James and Nicola Roberts, winner of ITV’s recent The Masked Singer and a former member of iconic girl band Girls Aloud.

Angels is a play about a screenwriter (Fraser’s Stine) who is hounded by a movie mogul (Jonathan Slinger’s Buddy Fidler behaviour seems both very pre-#MeToo and #TimesUp) as he is writing a movie-within-the-play about a 40s detective in Los Angeles who is hired by Williams’ vamp to find her missing stepdaughter.

The strength of the piece is that the best run of songs are given to rounding out the interesting female characters and we laughed along with Williams’ Alaura Kingsley as she seduced James’ detective Stone during The Tennis Song. Of all the West End debuts we think it will be hers which will scoop up most acclaim because it is the most out there and devil-may-care.

Roberts as missing stepdaughter Mallory makes the most of her Lost And Found and Trehearn has perhaps the highlight during You Can Always Count On Me in which we learn her celluloid secretary character is in unrequited love with the detective.

There’s a lot going on and it wouldn’t be quite so clear if the lighting wasn’t a brilliant contrast between black and white and colour.

City Of Angels works on so many levels that, while we found ourselves rooting for Craig’s betrayed wife of the author, it is the many women in the piece who are at the heart of its success.

Did the transfer to a much larger venue detract from the spectacle? Not at all, in fact, if anything, the bigger set just made it all the more impressive.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Nimax. Tickets
  • Have you seen this show? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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