Film noir-infused musical deals well with conflicts

“City of Angels” is a musical that deals — very well — with conflicts between the written word and the Hollywood film noir moving picture.

The Tony Award-winning jazz musical, staged nearly 30 years ago on Broadway, previewed Thursday at the University of Oklahoma.

A spirited cast proved up to the challenge of coping with its multiple roles and meanings in the preview at Weitzenhoffer Theatre, 563 Elm Ave.

Patrick Nowak had the right grit and swagger as Stone, the tough-guy detective-hero of a film noir movie-in-progress in 1948 Los Angeles.

Often clad in a dark trench coat, Nowak interacted well with the “Angel City 4” quartet, trying to help him solve the case, in “Ev’rybody’s Gotta Be Somewhere.”

He was even better trading motion picture code double-entendres with Landry McRee, as one of the movie’s many femme fatales, in “The Tennis Song.”

William Harris brought a strong voice and intense emotion to Stine, the screenwriter whose name sounds like his character, “Stone,” which is no coincidence.

Nowak as Stone and Harris as Stine ended both acts, venting their real versus imaginary rivalry in “You’re Nothing Without Me” and “I’m Nothing Without You.”

Antonio Rodriguez exploited race rivalry with black humor as a Latino detective, reveling that his old buddy may go to the gas chamber, in “All Ya Have to Do is Wait.”

Making life difficult for Stine was Ashley Mandanas, as Buddy, a nearly masculine movie Mogul, explaining why she has to have the last word in “The Buddy System.”

But if film noir movies were in some ways a man’s world, women also had some of the juiciest roles in the musical and made the most of them.

As a movie torch singer, Kirsten Myers made “With Every Breath I Take” a stand-alone, near show stopper and got across the irony of “It Needs Work” as Stine’s wife.

Madison Levy had a sexy field day as the missing daughter in the movie, turning up in the…

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