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File:Coa playbill.jpg

City of Angels is a musical comedy tribute to Film Noir, with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by David Zippel, and book by Larry Gelbart. It was first produced on Broadway in 1989 to positive reviews and quite a few Tony Awards.

The plot follows a 1940's noir novelist named Stine, who is being conscripted to write a film adaptation of his best-selling private eye novel starring his alter-ego Detective Stone. As we see Stone facing the usual Film Noir perils in the noir side of the story, in the real world side Stine is facing marital issues and Executive Meddling. The different worlds are color-coded, with all of the sets and costumes for the Film Within A Show being black and white, while the real-world sets and costumes are normally colored.

Not to be confused with the film of the same name, nor the spinoff of The Crow TV series.


Tropes used in City of Angels (musical) include:


  • Acting for Two - Except the actors playing Stone and Stine, every principal actor play two characters--one real, one in Stine's story. Stone and Stine are played by separate actors, of course, because they need to interact.
  • And You Were There - See Acting for Two.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall - Not the 'real' fourth wall, but the in-universe one between Stine and Stone is broken during the number "You're Nothing Without Me" as character and author get into a heated argument over the changes Stine is making. (And any fiction writer can tell you that this sort of thing is Truth in Television... well, maybe not the singing.) It's obliterated in the finale, when Stone grabs the typewriter to change the ending for Stine.
  • The Chanteuse - Bobbi, especially in "With Every Breath I Take".
  • Crowd Song - "Double Talk" is reprised by the party guests, also counts as The Villain Sucks Song.
  • Dark Reprise - Double Talk, originally a short song in the black and white world about how Stone distrusts Alaura, gets one of these in the color world when Buddy uses it to proclaim how much he hates writers.
  • Distant Duet - "What You Don't Know About Women" is sung by Stine's wife Gabby and Stone's secretary Oolie, who are not only far away from each other, but occupy completely different worlds.
  • Double Entendre - All over the place, but the "The Tennis Song" in particular consists of almost nothing but these.
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number - "Funny"
  • Executive Meddling - An in-universe example and major plot point, with Buddy making numerous changes to Stine's script.
  • Femme Fatale - Alaura Kingsley and, to a lesser extent, Mallory Kingsley.
  • "I Am" Song - "You Can Always Count On Me"
  • Irrelevant Act Opener - "Stay With Me"
  • "I Want" Song - Stine's "Double Talk"
  • Jerkass - Buddy Fidler to the very core.
  • Large Ham - Movie producer Buddy Fidler lends himself to this very much.
  • Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number - "Everybody's Gotta Be Somewhere"
  • Proscenium Reveal - It opens in the Show Within a Show, and gets most of the way through the expository scene before revealing Stine at his typewriter pressing the backspace key, causing the action to rewind.
  • Really Gets Around - Mallory Kingsley
  • Show Within a Show
  • Solo Duet - Sort of. "You're Nothing Without Me" is a duet between Stine and his far-cooler Author Avatar Stone.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song - Double Talk, a song that is constantly reprised throughout the show, is turned into one of these as the party guests belittle movie producer Buddy Fidler behind his back.
  • Triumphant Reprise - "I'm Nothing Without You"
  • Vehicular Sabotage - In the Film Noir within the show, Alaura claims to have done away with Peter by tampering with the brakes of his van. Peter lives, however.
  • Villain Song - "The Buddy System" is an odd subversion, as the audience doesn't quite realize Buddy's the real antagonist yet, and the number, while somewhat threatening in it's way, is a fun, light-hearted song.
    • Buddy's versions of Double Talk could also classify as these.
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