Two soon-to-be Northwestern graduates are taking the stage with the Marriott Lincolnshire’s production of “City of Angels”. 

Zoe Nadal and Kyle Sherman are ensemble members in “City of Angels,” a musical with score by David Zippel and Cy Coleman and book by Larry Gelbart. The actors spoke with Evanston Now about the complexities of the meta-filmic musical.

NADAL: It’s a complicated musical about writers, essentially. “City of Angels” takes place in two worlds: the film noir movie world, and the real world of Hollywood in the 1940’s…it’s about the struggles the writer deals with trying to maintain what his original work was [in adapting it to film.]

SHERMAN: It’s about entertainment!

Nadal explained that the “1940’s world is in black and white” in the design. “Then there’s the color world,” Sherman points out, “with the rocky points in [the writer’s] marriage, his love affair, and struggles directly with the main character.” The musical is nothing if not complex, and these two young actors are thrilled to be a part of it.

NADAL: Everybody really does play a role. The two of us get to fill in where it helps. We play a lot of different characters. I’m a waitress, and somebody’s secretary… We both have a ton of costume changes.

SHERMAN: “Trenchcoat or not” is a whole different story. The set changes are even more difficult…There’s so much going on. This is the first play I’ve done with this many scenes in it – around 40. Sometimes they can be a page long, and it flips back and forth between color and black and white.

NADAL: What’s so exciting about the Marriott is that it’s in the round. We can’t do the same thing the original production did, but we can do something different…Everything is very carefully thought out…the director is so detail and period oriented. It comes down to the way we walk and cross our legs.

Nadal and Sherman are all smiles about their first professional production. Neither is inexperienced in the ways of the stage, but neither have they experienced the professional acting world.

NADAL: This is my first professional production outside of school productions and community theatre. We’re graduating next week.

SHERMAN: I was writing a paper in the middle of the rehearsal period.

NADAL: I’m doing “Elf” at the Marriott in the winter. I’m understudying and doing the ensemble. I’m also playing Maria at the Paramount in “West Side Story.”

SHERMAN: I’m finishing this show and moving to New York.

Both Nadal and Sherman were a part of Northwestern’s production of “The Wild Party” by Andrew Lippa, directed by Tommy Rapley. Rapley is the choreographer for “City of Angels,” and these actors have much to say about working with Rapley and the other talented artists on the staff.

NADAL: We were both in “The Wild Party” with Tommy, and he taught our movement class. He’s so wonderful. He’s able to get everything up on its feet and then fine tune it. He’s so good at finding the big picture.

SHERMAN: But he’s able to work like a camera (he says) to zoom the audience’s eye.

NADAL: Which is so great for this because it’s so cinematic.  He’s really good about creating a world. “The Wild Party” was about a mood, an aura, how it feels…It’s enlightening to work with these people. But [the Marriott] is different from school. Everyone came to first rehearsal memorized, ready to hit the ground running.

SHERMAN: The whole show is basically staged in four days.

NADAL: It’s great to watch these really good actors- one of them just won for “The Wild Party” at Bailiwick. It’s been an honor.

For young performers and artists, the first few years out of college can be rough. It’s refreshing to note that some performers are landing important roles fresh out of school.

“City of Angels” opens June 17 and runs through Aug. 2 at the Marriott Lincolnshire, 10 Marriott Drive, in Lincolnshire.

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