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Published: Wednesday, 11/12/2008

Review: Players' engaging cast saves 'My Three Angels'

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Murder and mayhem combine to spread some Christmas cheer in the Village Players production of My Three Angels, running through Nov. 22.

The comedy, written in 1953 by Sam and Bella Spewak, is set in the early 20th century on Devil s Island, a French penal colony off the coast of Africa where Felix Ducotel (Paul Palminsano) and his wife, Emilie (Carol Ann Erford), run a small general store.

But they won t be shopkeepers for long, apparently. Felix, a good-hearted man, extends too much credit and is too timid to demand payment.

Making the Christmas season even worse, a cousin who fronted Felix the money for the store, Henri Trochard (Douglas Roy), is arriving any minute to audit the books. This plunges Felix and Emilie into despair, but it delights their daughter, Marie Louise (Ali Siebold), because Henri is bringing with him the man that she loves, Paul (Max Devolder). She is sure that Paul will propose marriage.

The conversation is overheard by Joseph, Alfred, and Jules (William Delaney, Matt Black, and Joel Speiser), three convicts who are repairing the roof of the store. (Convicts have a measure of freedom on Devil s Island, because they ve no place to go.)

The trio decides to help the Ducotels, each for his own reason: Jules, who murdered his cheating wife, dreams of leading a normal life with a home and family, much like the Ducotels have. Alfred, who murdered his penny-pinching stepfather, is halfway in love with Marie Louise. And Joseph, a swindler, is a consummate salesman who itches to make Felix s shop profitable.

Their help may not be what the Ducotels would have chosen for themselves, but it is exactly what they need.

At one point in its existence, My Three Angels may have been a knee-slapper, but it has mellowed into a show that produces chuckles and warm feelings if you don t think too hard about unrepentant murderers being heroes.

The Players cast draws the characters in broad strokes. Felix is good to the core, despite being a bit scatterbrained. Henri has no redeeming qualities. Emilie s kindness is the catalyst for the convicts favors. Marie Louise is a total innocent.

Even the convicts are likeable, with Delaney s Alfred a charming con artist who steals the show every time he makes a sale in the Felix s store. Our world is just like yours, one of the convicts explains to Felix. It s just that we were caught.

Despite some fumbling with the lines on opening night, the cast is so likable that it s hard not to go along with the flimsy plot and the easy laughs. And if you can accept the theme that the ends justify the means, My Three Angels is a real treat.

The Village Players continues My Three Angels in its theater at 2740 Upton Ave. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays through Nov. 22 and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for seniors and students. Information: 419-472-6817 or thevillageplayers.org.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at ncherry@theblade.com or 419-724-6130.



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