Angels in Ann Arbor

I’ve got “Love Actually” on right now, this has got to be my favorite movie ever. I’ve already rerun the part where Hugh Grant dances around the house to “Jump for my Love” about three times. And then there’s the part where the orchestra appears out of the audience at the wedding, and then when the weird British guy goes to Wisconscin to pick up chicks, and the funeral scene with “By Bye Baby Goodbye.” I don’t think there’s another movie that makes me laugh and cry as much as this one does (What author doesn’t dream of a pretty girl stripping down to her goodies to chase a manuscript into the water).

Has anyone seen the HBO version of “Angels in America?” That was the first real big mother of a play I read in high school when I was first forming as a playwright. I’m not normally a fan of televised plays, but this version was amazing and I can only imagine how amazing it would have been to see on Broadway. If you haven’t seen it, go out and rent it today. But those aren’t the angels I’m talking about.

I saw the musical “City of Angels” this weekend. I love musicals, I love mystery novels, and I love movies; so how did I not know this existed until just recently? The score is a very cool mix of post modern blues and big band and the intertwining stories of a hardboiled PI named Stone looking for the daughter of a wealthy woman and Stine the mystery novelist fighting for his artistic vision with the slimy movie producer are a treat. As a mystery writer, there were several surreal moments with Stine but the best scene is the song that closes the first act. Stone and Stine are arguing with each other and they break into the song “You’re Nothing Without Me” (which by the way, I hope *someone* will be singing at Bouchercon karaoke).

For a university cast, this was a group of all-stars. The director, composer, and choreographer all had Broadway experience but it was the students who really wowed me. The guy playing Stone was my favorite. He had the voice and look of a classic PI and he played the part straight without winking or mocking. His voice was powerful and he nailed the rafters with his high notes. I was shocked to find out later that he is only a sophomore.

If I can’t live in New York or Chicago, Ann Arbor has got to be the best theater town around. I think I may even go see “Hair” at the local high school.