Reviewed by Stephen Radosh
It’s that time of year when the trees get trimmed, kids line up at every mall to tell Santa what they want, and on television there is a deluge of seasonal films with IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE topping the list. Yes, it’s Christmas time
This mash-up of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and every movie ever made featuring a tough burlesque broad with a somewhat tarnished heart of gold has loads of laughs and is a fun rift on the aforementioned films.
The play is set in the New York City of 1948. In this play, the broad in questions is Irish O’Flanagan (Loren Freeman), a red-headed tough cookie who has seen it all and is the star attraction at the not so stellar Club Intime. Fighting all the way as she climbs the ladder of show biz success has made her bitter and cynical and prone to make more than few bad choices along the way. But luckily for her a new angel named Albert (Robbie Wayne) is sent down to earth with the mission of getting Irish to change her wicked ways. There’s a lot at stake for both of them. Irish is shown her own death at the hands of gangster Chick LaFountain (Michael Pacas) a fate she can only escape by thawing out her frozen heart and release the good girl within. For Albert, a failure in this mission given by God herself (yes, God is a she) means a quick ticket to eternity in hell. Irish ignores the angel’s warning and sure enough the fatal moment arrives when she is about to shot by Chick. Albert, desperate to save both Irish’s soul as well as his own makes a deal with God and saves her just in the nick of time. This miracle makes Irish open her eyes to her wicked ways and start anew on the path of goodness and everyone lives happily ever after. Well, everyone that is but Chick who is hauled off to jail.
The play, with a few rough transitions and a totally familiar story line is not the best one written by Charles Busch. But even 2nd best Busch promises lots of fun and plenty of laughs and director Jim Strait delivers on both counts.
As the kidnapping and would-be murdering gangster Chick, Michael Pacas delivers the right combination of Edward G. Robinson menace and George Raft sex appeal.
Karen Schmitt, Kam Sisco and Cat Lyn Day all get their moment to shine playing multiple roles throughout the show.
Ruth Braun as Georgie shows off her vocal prowess in one of several musical numbers woven throughout the show.
But everyone is overshadowed (in a good way) by the play’s leading ‘lady.’ Charles Busch wrote and starred as Irish in the original production of TIMES SQUARE ANGEL, so you know the part is ripe with campy humor, double-entendres and plenty of chances for good old-fashioned scenery chewing. Happily, Loren Freeman lands all of the jokes and leaves plenty of teeth marks in the set! He displays great comic timing with every take to the audience and each joke and pun hits the bullseye. Plus, he looks fabulous as a redhead.
So, if you want to give yourself a present this holiday season, grab a couple of tickets to TIMES SQUARE ANGEL, take someone you care for and have a great time.
TIMES SQUARE ANGEL runs from now until Dec. 17, 2017. For more information and to order tickets go to Desertroseplayhouse.org.