Weiser Little Theater’s fall production, My Three Angels, a family oriented comedy, opens November 2. The play takes place Christmas of 1910, but you can forget about snowmen, jingle bells, and carolers in mittens and mufflers! This is Christmas Day on a French penal colony in the tropics, where the temperature has graciously dropped to 104 and a small expatriate community struggles to get by. The story deals with a dreamy, unsuccessful merchant and his family who feel nearly as trapped by circumstance as the men in prison stripes who hover above them, repairing their thatched roof.
My Three Angels, written in 1953 by Sam and Bella Spewack, is charming in its simplicity. Director Barbara Huck’s direction is breezy enough and the cast fleet enough to compensate for a few creaks in a somewhat predictable story.
The whole play takes place in the Ducotel family’s parlor. Felix Ducotel (Steve Robertson), cheated out of his business in Cherbourg by an unscrupulous relative, is trying to make a go of this new life. He keeps up a cheery front for his devoted wife, Emilie (Gloria Stevenson), and their marriageable daughter, Marie Louise (Larissa Cheney), but he’s not fooling anyone. They might cope as long as they have each other. But now the relative, the venomous Henri Trochard (Mike Koto), a gallic Ebenezer Scrooge, is about to arrive in their sweltering paradise, along with his well-tutored nephew Paul (Kyler Thomason), who once promised that he’d always love Marie Louise but throws her over for a rich heiress.
Three convicts fro the penal colony have been hired to fix the thatched roof at the Ducotels’ general store. From their perch on the roof, they overhear the Ducotels’ woes and determine to help them.
All the performers are well cast for their roles. Gail Johnson White, a third generation WLT actor, plays the shrewd Madame Parole hilariously. The lieutenant (Kade Channell) is a young, handsome, straightforward soldier who arrives at just the right time. He is every good thing that Paul is not. But the show belongs to the convicts, who get the best Christmas present they could hope for: a chance to taste the lives they long for, just for a few precious hours.
Jules (Hunter Mizar) has unexpected warmth and tenderness for being a double murderer. He helps to keep Alfred’s temperature in check while establishing an entirely proper, warmly touching rapport with Emilie, the kind of wise, understanding wife he always longed for.
Alfred (Steve Shaw) simultaneously flirts with Marie Louise and the nephew’s stylish wardrobe. He is in prison for murdering someone over money.
Joseph (Fred Wheeler), the unofficial leader of the convicts, is doing time for forgery and confidence schemes. He uses his brilliant “business” instincts to an end that isn’t honest but is somehow virtuous.
“Our world is just like yours,” Jules tells Felix. “The only difference is, we got caught.” My Three Angels gently poses always-relevant questions about the nature of “criminality.” It doesn’t come to any surprising answers, but the audience with leave with a good feeling.
Performance dates are November 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11 for dinner shows with catering by Dianna Quinn. Dessert shows are November 2 and 7. Doors open at 6:30 each night.
Tickets are available online at www.weiserlittletheater.seatyourself.biz or from the Chamber of Commerce at 414-0452.