Photo courtesy of Desert Foothills Theater
City of Angels, a comedic mystery, set in Hollywood in the 1940s, will have its preview night performance at 7 p.m. Thursday at Desert Foothills Theater. Opening night is at 7 p.m. Friday. The show which runs through March 28 will include seven performances.

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North Scottsdale becomes City of Angels
Marc Buckhout ~ Managing Editor ~ 03/17/2010

Michael Stewart, a veteran of eight Desert Foothills Theater productions, promises that upon seeing City of Angels at the Scottsdale theater those in attendance will never think of the movie which starred Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan again.
Instead they’ll wonder how they haven’t seen the 1990 Tony Award winner for best musical before.
“It’s an incredibly crafted script,” he said. “At its heart it’s a comedy, but one with a lot of good dramatic moments.”
The seven-show two-week run gets under way with a preview performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday followed by opening night, at 7:30 p.m. Friday. There will also be performances Saturday, Sunday, and then shows March 26-28 on the second weekend of the run.
Stewart, formerly of Tramonto and currently of North Scottsdale, plays the role of Stone, a private detective in the mold of Sam Spade.
The show is the story of Stine, a young writer, who attempts to adapt his skills as a novelist to make a movie. His main character from his novels is Stone.
“My character is interesting because he’s the alter ego of the writer (Stine),” Stewart said. “My character is everything he would like to be. I’m his better half.”
While the audience experiences the story of the movie they also see the world in which the movie is being made. In making the transition from the two Stine often leads into the movie scenes by sitting down at his typewriter to craft another scene.
In distinguishing the two worlds Wes Sullivan, the Managing Producer, said lighting cues help the audience.
“We need to make it clear to the audience which world the action on stage is a part of,” he said. “When the scene involves something in the movie that will be shown in a black and white world, as opposed to when it’s a scene when they’re producing the movie, which will be under normal lighting. The characters also will change costumes accordingly. The play is set in the 1940s in Los Angeles. I like the challenge of setting the mood.”
While Stone is investigating a missing person in the film Stine is battling the find himself, as he is challenged by being in Los Angeles.
“It starts changing him as a person,” Stewart said. “He gets caught up in the money, the fame, and everything else that is part of Hollywood. There are really two good stories going on at once. For those that like comedy we’ve got some great one-liners and zingers.”
Stewart said he also loves the show’s music. Between the singing performances and the band performing jazz he said the audience will be in for quite a treat.
“The music is really peppy. I think it’s one of Cy Coleman’s most underrated scores. Our 4-piece band has the sound and power of 20 musicians,” Stewart said. “Stephen Erek (who plays the role of Stine) has some fantastic songs that will rock the place and then also has a number toward the end that will stop people in their seats.”
The show features 16 cast members, one of the largest shows to take the Desert Foothills Theater stage in several years.
“We wanted to try and get more involvement from community members,” Sullivan said. “We’ve got a fabulous cast with lots of really talented people in it giving memorable performances.”
The musical comedy was written by Larry Gelbart, of MASH fame. Tickets for the show are $24 for adults and $15 for students. To reserve seats, or see the complete schedule for the show’s run visit www.desertfoothillstheater.com or call 480-488-1981.