|Ian Christiansen and Matt Zimmerer|
Photo by Wade Moran / Moran Imaging
"The 1989 musical City of Angels won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Book and Score, and ran for more than two years on Broadway, yet it is a show that doesn't seem to be produced that often. Fortunately, Theater Works in Peoria is presenting the musical, featuring the creative team from their hit production of Follies from last season, and this production is as well conceived and thought out as the show itself. Featuring a sensational jazz score, City of Angels moves between the beautiful, yet slightly seedy, technicolor world of 1940s Hollywood, where New York novelist Stine has been hired to adapt his book into a film, and the black and white world of the film he is writing. While the disillusioned Stine writes, rewrites, and deals with the temptations and distractions of Hollywood while his wife is back in New York, his screenplay comes to life in front of us in the form of a film noir mystery led by private-eye Stone. City of Angels is witty, glamorous, full of suspense, and completely original....director Phillip Fazio has a handle on making sure we always know which world we are in. With 40 scene changes...and the fact that all of the actors, except the two leads, play a part in each story, there could be disastrous results. Fazio succeeds in several ways.....Cy Coleman's sumptuous music and David Zippel's intricate and clever lyrics are masterfully played by a smoking band led by music director Steve Hilderbrand. ...As Stone and Stine, Matt Zimmerer and Ian Christiansen are well cast. Zimmerer has the look and demeanor of the hard-boiled, beaten, and jaded detective. While he effectively portrays Stone as a private eye right out of numerous 1940s films, he also displays the right emotional connection to how he got to be the person he is, which we see play out in flashbacks. Christiansen is equally good in showing how Stine is simply trying to retain the artistic intent of his novel in the film adaptation while at the same time juggling his attempt to please his wife, his girlfriend, and his producer. ...Intelligent and well thought out musicals as well conceived as City of Angels come along very rarely. While it might prove a little challenging to less inclined theatergoers, due to the overlapping and complex storylines, Theater Works' production is a stellar achievement, with a superb cast, clever design elements, and clear and crisp direction."