New York | 2h 15m | Already closed

City Stories

From 11 critic and 38 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Original, Entertaining, Absorbing, Thought-provoking

About the show

Part of the Brits Off Broadway fest, this musical exploration of love, magic, and the city of London features six stories performed in rotating rep. More…

What happens when someone tells you that you're the answer to the riddle of life? What happens when a stranger in Starbucks gives you something that will change your world forever? What happens if the world starts to fall asleep, hour by hour? A haunting journey fusing drama and live music, 'City Stories' is a new type of cabaret drama, a sequence of interwoven romantic stories that's also a love letter to London. Although there are six stories in all, only four are performed at each show.


"Every aspect of this production manifests the unities of drama like a well-crafted monument to creativity...The poetic writing, the distinctive characterizations, the heightened dialogue and the acute sensibilities of the actors who make us believe every important word they say is stark and real. This production is a must-see. I can’t rave about it enough and I am tempted to drop in another night." Full Review


"Each of the actors in the ensemble is featured in at least two stories, and each play has been directed meticulously by the playwright, who made sure to spend time differentiating the roles his actors from one play to the other...A seamless production in many ways, Phillips’ latest is nothing short of ambitious, and Gregory’s music is the perfect companion. Thoughtful and engaging, the enchanting collection of English fairy tales known as 'City Stories' is a serendipitous affair." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"If the back wall weren’t black but exposed bricks you might almost think you were in a comedy club, not an evening of contemplative, semi-dramatic, lightly comedic, romantically tinted, magically realistic, imaginatively metaphoric “Tales of Love and Magic in London,” as the evening’s subtitle puts it...Trimming five to seven minutes off each play would go a long way toward keeping everyone’s eyes open. Soothing your audience to sleep is no way to run a cabaret, even a theatre cabaret." Full Review


"The poignant stories have just the right touch of fantasy that leaves a great deal to the imagination…The music in 'City Stories' is the ideal complement and the prose is enthralling. Experience these fascinating journeys into longing, love and life." Full Review

The New York Times

"The London that exists in the mind of James Phillips, who created these six short plays is a wondrous, languid place made of silky metaphor...For this seductive and consistently well-acted production, Theater B at 59E59 is set up cabaret-style, which helps it seem only logical that each play is introduced by a singer accompanying herself on the piano. Mr. Phillips’s imaginative stories are also punctuated with thought-provoking observations." Full Review

New York Theatre Review

"The ensemble is full of strong and personable actors...The dreamlike quality that is an innate part of this piece also serves as a downfall from time to time with parts getting a little wordy and moments too drawn out. But more often than not the stories carry you to that enjoyable state of melancholy...The most beautiful aspect of the entire production, and its driving force, is the positively enchanting original music from Rosabella Gregory." Full Review

Stage Buddy

“Phillips’ inspired collection of plays defies cliche...Some of the narration drags on too long, and the script favors telling over showing. When pivotal moments are just passively relayed, sometimes their full emotional impact doesn’t quite come through...But the heart of this production is its relatable humanity...Combined with the scintillating score and eloquent prose, ‘City Stories’ is worth experiencing.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"James Phillips writes so beautifully that one wishes he would find more interesting things to write about. 'City Stories,' is filled with striking turns of phrase and observations that linger in the mind, but the stories themselves are marked by a whimsical, airy-fairy quality that can prove cloying…Gregory's lovely piano and vocal work consistently adds to the evening's introspective mood…It's strange to be so simultaneously seduced and irritated by a play." Full Review


for a previous production "If this is a new genre of ‘theatre-cabaret,' as some reviewers have suggested, then I would like more of it! This is work at a sophisticated creative level, where everything depends in a very pure, basic sense on the players themselves…Great credit then to all the players and to James Phillips for his direction, quite apart from his luminous yet precisely calibrated writing." Full Review

London Theatre1

for a previous production "A sublime, atmospheric and enchanting cabaret drama, with two hours of love, hope and delight…Rosabella composed the music for this show and what a brilliant composition it is! A perfect match in my opinion to the stories and one could be totally forgiven to be completely absorbed and lost within its layers of beauty…In essence this evening delivered exactly what it promised...This show, cast, composer, writer and director are a match made in heaven!" Full Review

Everything Theatre (UK)

for a previous production "In all the stories the dialogue is, I suppose, lyrical, and probably works on paper, but on stage sounds mannered and phoney...Characters are underdeveloped and used simply as a conduit for the many, many words...What’s clever about 'City Stories' is the way it interweaves songs with stories, and I certainly can’t fault either the music or the voices of the various singers. But overall, I found it a draining experience." Full Review

Clever, Exquisite, Intelligent, Original, Great singing

See it if if you like unusual stories of love and romance and as a bonus great piano accompaniment.

Don't see it if don't like minimal decorations, intimate setting, long dialogs

Great acting, Original, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if You like plays with monologues and a minimalistic setting

Don't see it if you don't have much of an imagination

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Original

See it if You enjoy listening to stories, and can't get enough of the British accent! See it if you like small, intimate theater.

Don't see it if You can't sit still in a folding chair!

Great acting, Great writing, Original, Thought-provoking, Clever

See it if you enjoy a descriptive play that is told through excellent performances that manage to engage the audience. Amazing singer and pianist!

Don't see it if you're after a big, over the top cabaret production with glitz and glamour!

Great acting, Great writing, Romantic, Refreshing, Original

See it if You enjoy British love stories, or descriptive shows. It's told, not shown, but works fantastically

Don't see it if You don't like cabaret style theatre, or don't like lyrical monologues and fantastical events or love stories

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing

See it if See it at a larger theater

Don't see it if It was more expensive

Absorbing, Allegorical, Poetic, Original, Thought-provoking

See it if you are open to fluid, open-ended poetic stories that are romantic in origin but encompass highly individual and introspective experiences.

Don't see it if You need tightly pulled together plots; a dreamy mix of reality and reverie would try your patience; expository songs aren't your cup of tea

Absorbing, Clever, Enchanting, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if You like excellently acted, transcendent storytelling with an enchanting musical element, and if you like British culture.

Don't see it if You are expecting full-on musical theatre or prefer superficially entertaining sentimentality over deeply affecting, meaningful work.

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Exquisite, Intelligent

See it if you enjoy an unusual cabaret with beautiful and poetic stories accompanied by haunting and mesmerizing music. I was totally caught up in it.

Don't see it if you don't like story telling, poetry or a lovely woman singing sweet/sad songs in an interesting voice.

Delightful, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Great singing

See it if wonderful creative great music and acting

Don't see it if you do not like things that are avant garde

Entertaining, Great acting, Original

See it if Quite original. Each story was poignant and interesting.

Don't see it if you don't like cerebral.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy being told a story by people whose mere words paint the scene for you with soft poetic piano bar-esque music complementing same.

Don't see it if you dislike monologue heavy, thought provoking productions; seek a musical with flashy song and dance numbers; dislike female storytelling.

Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant

See it if You like beautiful acting, the show challenges notions of love in a demonstrative, yet delicate way. Very well done.

Don't see it if Monologue-ish pieces are not your thing.

Entertaining, Clever

See it if you like intimate settings/and challenging traditional notions of love

Don't see it if you don't like monologue driven shows

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you like intimate, up close and personal theater experiences

Don't see it if you like musicals or straight forward dramas with simple plots.

Romantic, Original, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if Like romance and stories about relationships.

Don't see it if Like to see musicals

Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Exquisite

See it if You like chamber theatre, with the emphasis on the written and spoken words.

Don't see it if You are expecting a traditional theatre production.

Quirky, Wistful, Romantic, Presentational

See it if Enjoy vignette or monologue style contemplations of love and self, for the apt and original songs nicely woven in throughout

Don't see it if Don't enjoy being crammed into a space of uncomfortable and loud chairs, looking for a through plot and realistic stories

Romantic, Quirky, Absorbing

See it if You like having people tell you stories, and British actors, and Rosabella.

Don't see it if You have no patience with well worn stories. Nothing new happens here, but the tales are well told and the music adds flavor and texture.

Charming singer-pianist bookended each pas de deux, 4 romantic playlets w/ casts of 2-3 actors, Playlets dominated by monologue-storytelling, Part of the annual brits-off-broadway play festival

See it if If U like shows in a place so intimate U may need a shoehorn 2 wedge yourself into your seat, w/ actors so close they make deep eye-contact.

Don't see it if If U dislike monologue-storytelling dominating dialogue, British accents, romance without physical intimacy, & a singer that steals the show

Clever, Great acting

See it if love the idea of cabaret seatin but too many seats provided for the small space . Singer/pianist excellent as well as 3 of the Brit actresse

Don't see it if coninued.. dreamy supernatural subconscious thoughts... should do 3 tales in each perf. as to see all 6 you must catch 3 perf Love the Brits

Absorbing, Great acting, Original, Slow

See it if you enjoy short narration-drive stories that express humanity and ask thought-provoking questions; some more captivating than others

Don't see it if you dislike monologues/on-stage narration; you need more than simplistic staging; you dislike table seating

Slow, Ambitious, Disappointing, Original, Good music

See it if you enjoy cabaret mixed with futuristic leanings. Attractive performers tell stories. The pianist plays and sings familiar and original

Don't see it if you need closure. Most of the stories drift off rather then end. The cabaret set up makes for squashed seating areas without table service?

Disappointing, Indulgent, Slow

See it if you want to be bored. The acting is terrific, but the writing play itself is too predictable and goes nowhere.

Don't see it if you like thought provoking theatre.

4 short plays with music in-between, Singer-pianist rosabella gregory finds the romance the plays don't, Of the 4 i saw (there are 6 playlets in all) "pearl" was the best of the lot., Overrated

See it if See it if U like short, humorless, romantic plays. Good for a 1st date & the acting is 1st rate. Best of all is the pianist that plays a lot

Don't see it if If U get invited by Showscore to see this, the seating is semi-horrible to one side of semi-thrust stage with tables & chairs (buy a drink).

Cast & Creatives (13)