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Marriott Theatre Makes it Reel in 'City of Angels'

It’s a play. It’s a movie. No, in City of Angels at the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, it’s both. Taken from the age of Film Noir in the 1940s, this revival of the 1989 musical comedy demonstrates director Nick Bowling’s love of the medium. This is the classic world of the gum shoe detective, complete with femme fatales, torch singers and murderous mayhem. It’s a script that writer Stine, played by Rod Thomas and Detective Stone, played by Kevin Earley in the movie, share the same stage. Are you still with me? No question, a play like this in the round is challenging, but the Marriott production pulls it off with style. And then some.

Last spring, Earley and Thomas took to the stage together in Goodman Theatre’s “Brigadoon.” They have great chemistry on stage here as well. One writes, the other acts it out, then rewrites it, trying to get it right. It’s reel versus real. Most of the actors play two the same character in the play and the movie, so it’s fascinating to see them adapt to the two characters. Summer Naomi Smart, who also played Mary Poppins in 2013 at the Marriott, takes a somewhat different role as the gorgeous, sexy Alaura Kingsley and trophy wife-Carla Haywood. Danni Smith as Bobbi, who also plays Gabby, is a standout in her belt-it-out nightclub scenes, receiving well-deserved thunderous applause. Gene Weygandt is a hoot as the producer who drives both Stine/Stone crazy. It’s a little hard to keep everyone straight, but the Marriott also includes a cheat sheet of characters.

When City of Angels opened in Broadway, it won six Tony awards including, Best Musical. This is a great show that doesn’t get produced very often. Go see it now.