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I Married an Angel 

42nd Street Moon's staging is a small-scale gem

Wednesday, Dec 13 2000
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Rodgers and Hart's 1938 musical is a precursor to films like Splash in which a man pines after an extraterrestrial love, who then appears and messes up his life. It features a truly lovely score -- from the melancholy "Spring Is Here" to the romping show-stopper "At the Roxy Music Hall." The concert staging by 42nd Street Moon of this sweet, silly show (directed by Greg MacKellan) is a small-scale gem, especially given the performances by Lesley Hamilton and the amazing Amy Louise Cole. As the oft-married, ex-musical stage star Countess Peggy Palaffi, Hamilton knocks about with sass and sanity. Singing "With a Twinkle in Your Eye," about how to get away with anything using humor, intelligence, and sex appeal, she exudes all three qualities. Cole is entrancing in her best role to date as Anna, the young American with the cheerful, charming amorality that only a convent education can bring. (Peggy introduces her as "the sweetest, purest goddamn girl in the world." She's only got the "goddamn" part right.) She charges around, eagerly getting to the bottom of everything and having a blast doing it. When she sings the "Roxy" number in her clear, unfussy voice, tap-dancing with the whole company backing her, she's an imp trespassing in heaven, bringing us with her. Martin Lewis is Peggy's brother, Willy, a successful Budapest banker longing for a saintly mate. An angel (Marina Torres) descends when she hears his plea, and they soon wed. Torres speaks in a lilting, tinkly voice, and sings beautifully, especially in the sweet reprise of "I Married an Angel" that she hums to her sleeping husband. John-Elliott Kirk as Harry Szigetti, a wealthy American financier, is terrific as a bulwark of rectitude beset by Hurricane Peggy; he is both surprised and irritated to find the turmoil rather exciting. Unlike the title character, this production never loses its wings.

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Joe Mader

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