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AWARD-WINNING MUSICAL TO OPEN IN AREA IT PANS

In movies and on TV, Larry Gelbart's award-winning humor cuts through society's pretenses. In his hit musical, "City of Angels," the writer focuses closer to home - on Hollywood itself.

The story, with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by David Zippel, is told on two levels. A detective novelist (James Naughton) takes a stab at writing his first screenplay in 1940s Hollywood. The musical cuts back and forth to the fictional detective (Stephen Bogardus), whose tale unfolds in black and white."City of Angels," winner of six Tony awards including best musical, will open June 12 at the Shubert Theater in Century City, directed by Michael Blakemore with musical numbers staged by Walter Painter. Actress Randy Graff also stars.

The idea originated with Coleman ("Sweet Charity"), Gelbart says. But at first, efforts to devise a simple private-eye story didn't work for Gelbart. Then he hit on the notion of creating side-by-side realities.

"I seem to tackle tough ideas. . . . If that's a handicap, I wish I could have a card for my car that says `partially handicapped writer' so I could get a decent parking space."

Gelbart received Oscar nominations for "Oh, God!" and "Tootsie," and an Emmy for the TV series "M*A*S*H," which he developed and co-produced with Gene Reynolds.