National Youth Arts - ArtsDig - Resource for youth arts


Fans of fictional detectives like Sam Spade will enjoy “City of Angels,” a musical spoof of hard-bitten, womanizing snoops presented by Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts on October 18th, 2015. The show will also be playing the following weekend, the 23rd -25th in the Historic Auditorium and Bell Tower.

First staged in 1989, this musical is a tribute to film noir, a satire on Hollywood and a tremendous feat of intertwined plotting. A writer (Stine), struggles to make a screenplay out of his detective novel, tussling for control of the script with a producer who just wants a happy ending. As the author, expertly played by Cole Wachman, types out his drafts, his plot becomes embodied on stage. When he taps out a direction it is flashed up immediately and is performed by the actors. When he deletes a sequence, characters rewind themselves, jerking backwards out of rooms. Reminds me fondly of a Twilight Zone episode with the same theme from the 50’s.

Stine’s protagonist detective, Stone, is played with calm gravity by Adrian Villegas. Nothing fazes Stone, even his own attempted murder at the hands of two very funny hoods, played by Cole LaBrake and Blake Laszlo, who seem bent on blowing him up. Adrian uses every nuance of coolness at his disposal while interpreting the role, and he conjures up a mixed bag of heroes and celebrities rolled into one, especially when crooning out a tune. I could see him take on characteristics of the inimitable Humphrey Bogart, but resemble Elvis Costello singing “The Detectives.” Perhaps a bit of Buster Poindexter added for good measure. He was really made for this part.

For its humor, the script relies on hammy acting and corny one-liners, like in the description of the sexy beauty whose legs were so long that “only the floor kept her legs from going on forever.” Marcus Veyette and Maxwell Holley also achieve some of their funniest moments of the show as fictional characters Lt. Munoz and Officer Pasco. Marcus (Lt. Munoz) delivers one of the best performances of the night Latin American style, with “All You Have To Do Is Wait!”

The progress of the plot is confusing at times, with actors doubling and even tripling in roles, all the while mingling real scenes with fictional ones. Autumn Kirkpatrick shines as both Stine’s wife Gabby and Stone’s ex-fiance Bobbi; Laura Harris, who stars as Stone’s secretary Oolie and Buddy’s secretary Donna is another talented showstopper. 

I found the material always entertaining and intriguing with unexpected plots and twists. The lyrics, written by David Zippel and the script by Larry Gelbart (who incidentally also wrote M*A*S*H and Tootsie) perfectly capture the corner-of-the-mouth Chandler idiom, drawlingly delivered and jewel-encrusted. And Cy Coleman’s superb jazz score, flawlessly performed by APA’s orchestra headed by Director Gregg Gilboe, provides a secret narrative snaking throughout the evening. There was a great deal of ambiance. It was a strong, sizzling two hours, and one of the best productions in Orange County at this time. I would definitely see it again!

Performed October 16 - 25, 2015

Photos by Nancy Hickey  

Chris Daniels
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~ 

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Stine: Cole Wachman
Stone: Adrian Villegas
Irwin S. Irving/Buddy Fidler: Adam Blanchard
Gabby/Bobbi: Autumn Kirkpatrick
Donna/Oolie: Laura Harris
Carla/Alaura: Emily Michels
Averill/Mallory: Allyson Peffers
Jimmy Powers: Sam Melvin
Pancho Vargas/Lt. Munoz: Marcus Veyette
The Angel City 6: 
Noah LaBare
Austin Schulte
Julia Stratton
Kathrine Chatman
Victoria Romero
Paige Taylor
Dr. Mandril/Margie, A Madam: Rossella Juliano
Werner/Luther Kingsley: Alberto Hernandez
Big Six: Cole LaBrake 
Sonny: Blake Laszlo 
Gerald/Peter Kingsley: Riley Hayward 
Gene/Pasco/Gilbert: Maxwell Holley 
Mahoney/Blue Note Announcer: Lucas Wilson 
Del Dacosta/Gaines: Damon Williams 
Shoe Shine Boy/Nephew: Michael Kriesel 
Cinematographer/Coroner Yamato: Vivian Cronk 
Orderly 1: Annalise Fox 
Orderly 2: Kat Lewis 
Margaret: Mollie Hersh 
Anna, A Masseuse: Chyna Gudgel 
Brothel Girl: Maddie Jackson 
Bootsie, A Brothel Girl: Rylie Herbel 
Stand-In: Malia Merrill 
Clapper Girl: Victoria Stewart 
Makeup Girl: Lauren Beebe 
Prop Girl: Gillian Duane 
Blue Note Guests: 
Lauren Beebe
Gillian Duane
Annalise Fox
Chyna Gudgel
Riley Hayward
Alberto Hernandez
Rylie Herbel
Mollie Hersh
Maxwell Holley
Maddie Jackson
Michael Kriesel
Kat Lewis
Malia Merrill
Victoria Stewart
Damon Williams
Hollywooders/Alaura Singers: 
Sophia Courtemarche
Brenna Donovan
Annalise Fuji
Jenny Hudson
Tessa Rawlinson
Jessie Ruggierro
Hannah Schooner
Autumn Thelander
Helen Thome
Nina Wheeler
Kelsey Colburn
Juliana Foster
Leah Gates
Elizabeth Hearn
Maggie Keller
Tegan Kennedy
Anneliese Leach
Marina Loukatos
Alex McCrimmon
Jessie Patzlaff
Delaney Raupp
Kamari Rhone
Emma Rutkowski
Jordan Schochet
Natalie Segundo
Dorothea Seibert Von Fock,
Mallory Stiles
Lauren Watkins
Tessa Wilson

Director: Tim Nelson
Costume Design: Jordan Carabajal, Kamari Rhone, Marissa Wilson
Hair/Makeup Design: Jordan Carabajal, Kamari Rhone, Marissa Wilson
Set Design: Allison Pickle
Lighting Design: Josh Behrens
Sound Design: Bradon O'Connell
Choreographer: Diane Makas
Musical Director: Tim Nelson




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