“City of Angels,” a musical homage to classic film noir, opens Feb. 19 and runs through March 6, courtesy of Theater Works at the Gyder Theater at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, 8355 W. Peoria Ave., Peoria, Arizona. Set in the 1940s in the glamorous, seductive world of the Hollywood film studios, the Tony Award-winning play tells the story of Stine, a disillusioned young novelist, attempting to write a screenplay for movie producer/director Buddy Fidler.
Written by Larry Gelbart, who created the TV version of M*A*S*H, “City of Angels” has lyrics by David Zippel and music composed in a jazzy, contemporary style by Cy Coleman, Tony-winning composer of scores for “The Will Rogers Follies” and “Sweet Charity.”
Directing “City of Angels” is Phillip Fazio, who currently lives and works as a freelance director in New York City. Arizona directing credits include “Ragtime” and “Follies” for Theater Works, and “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Quiltmaker’s Gift” at Phoenix Theatre. Steve Hilderbrand takes the baton as musical director. Hilderbrand has worked with countless theater productions, both at Theater Works and elsewhere, and he won the ariZoni Award for Best Original Script (with Gary Gallner) for “I Get a Kick Out of Cole.” “City of Angels” features such show-stopping tunes as “What You Don’t Know About Women,” “I’m Nothing Without You” and “You Can Always Count on Me.”
Playing Stine is Ian Christiansen, an East Coast transplant and a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama. He was a company member with the American Mime Theatre in Manhattan and is a cabaret performer who produces his own musical shows under the name of the Lil’ Jonny Revue. Local theater credits include Proteus in “Two Gentlemen of Verona” and Berowne in “Love’s Labour’s Lost” for Southwest Shakespeare Company, Jim Slaughter in “Arizona Lady” and Max in “Don Pasquale” for Arizona Opera, Joseph in “Sons of the Prophet” for Stray Cat Theatre and Giuseppe in “The Light in the Piazza” for Phoenix Theatre.
Matt Zimmerer is Stone, the crafty detective. Zimmerer was criminally investigated as Eddie in Phoenix Theatre’s “Shear Madness,” had his head cut off as Cloten in “Spellbound” for Southwest Shakespeare Company and did time at Theater Works last year as MacMurphy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” For Theater Works, he has also appeared as Harold Hill in “The Music Man,” Father in “Ragtime,” MacMillan in “Big” and Capulet in “Romeo and Juliet.” Other roles include Jim in “The Glass Menagerie and E. Antipholus in “Comedy of Errors” at Phoenix Theatre; Victor in “The Price,” Bobby in “The Old Man’s Friend” and Reuven in “The Chosen” with Arizona Jewish Theatre Company; and Bill in “Lobby Hero” and Bruce in “Blue/Orange” for Actors Theatre.
Sarah Wolter returns to Theater Works as the seductive Alaura Kingsley/Carla Haywood. She has won ariZoni Awards for her portrayal of Sally in “Cabaret,” Irene in “Crazy for You,” Mistress Page in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and Mother in “Ragtime.” A resident of Los Angeles, Wolter is also a director and teacher and founding member of Stupid Songs, a comedic song company.
A 20-year veteran of theater, cabaret and musical reviews, Hector Coris comes to the Theater Works mainstage for the first time as Buddy Fidler/Irwin S. Irving. Originally from New York City, Coris has been seen primarily on stage at the Hale Centre Theatre and for the Scottsdale Musical Theater Company, and he won an ariZoni Award for his direction of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” for the Hale. Some of his favorite roles include Franklin Hart in “9 to 5,” Banjo in “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” Mrs. Meers in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and Max Bialystock in “The Producers.”
Additional cast members include Marie Gouba (Gabby/Bobbi), Rob Allocca (Munoz/Pancho Vargas/Understudy Stein), Janine Colletti (Mallory Kingsley/Avril Raines), Ken Goodenberger (Jimmy Powers), Skylar Washburn (Orderly/Mahoney), Mark Tumey (Orderly/Officer Pasco/Gene/Understudy Jimmy Powers), Chris Chavez (Yamato/Cinematographer/Understudy Munoz/Pancho Vargas), Peter Cunniff (Luther Kingsley/Werner Keigler/Understudy Stone), Tina Khalil (Bootsie/Understudy Alaura/Carly and Oolie/Donna), Cody H Seaver (Commissioner Gaines/Shoeshine), Erzsébet Szabó (Margie/Anna/Hairdresser), Jonathan Ramirez (Peter Kingsley/Gerald Pierce), Thomas Graca (Sonny), Michael Schwenke (Dr. Mandril/Barber), Megan Farinella (Margaret/Stand-in/Understudy Mallory Kingsley/Avril Raines), Bob Downing (Big Six/Studio Cop) and Steve Hilderbrand (Del Da Costa). The Angel City 6 are Alexandra Utpadel, Beth Anne Johnson, Abigail Kimball, Josh Vern, Peter Walsworth and Heather Fallon, who is also the understudy for Bobbi/Gabby.
Single tickets for “City of Angels” are $36, with discounts for seniors, students and groups. Purchase tickets online or by calling the box office at 623-815-7930.