Tony Awards 1990: City of Angels

27 Dec

Well, 1989 for whatever reason, was a very nostalgic season.  The four big shows were City of Angels–a film noir influenced musical set in the forties, Meet me in St. Louis–a fluff show set in the turn of the century, Aspects of Love–Andrew Lloyd Weber’s latest piece of victoriana, and finally Grand Hotel–celebrating the thirties.

City of Angels, like the Noir it celebrates, is high on style but low on substance.   Most of the songs are comedic, and parts are clever, but as for something that rises above its source material, this is not one of those shows.   I can’t say there’s anything else that should have won however.   Aspects of Love and Meet Me in St. Louis are both so saccharine that they are painful, and Grand Hotel is a very decent show that perhaps could have used a bit more focus (but then again, the original story had the same problem, so there you go.)  On top of it, Grand Hotel pretty much covers the same ground as 42nd street, a show that went 10 years earlier.

For better or for worse, City of Angels accurately sets the tone for how Broadway would develop over the next decade–the mega-musical was on its way out, and on its way in are theme musicals and while Disney might have been the big motivator towards the new family friendly Broadway, City of Angels (and the rest of the shows of 1990) really opened up the door for a Disney show to be mentioned in the same breath as something like West Side Story or Chicago.

Oh well, if anything, the year before proved that Broadway needed to do something to stay alive.   So maybe in a way it was inevitable.

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