ProArts Playhouse ‘My Three Angels’ spreads classic Christmas good tidings

Stage Review

Orion Milligan (from left), Jim Oxborrow and Marc Levine charm as   convicts with hearts of gold in ProArts Playhouse’s holiday feature, “My Three Angels.” Jack Grace photo

Orion Milligan (from left), Jim Oxborrow and Marc Levine charm as convicts with hearts of gold in ProArts Playhouse’s holiday feature, “My Three Angels.” Jack Grace photo

Director Francis Tau’a shares this observation of people in his letter in the program for “My Three Angels,” the holiday show presented by ProArts Playhouse in Kihei.

“The premise of convicts with hearts of gold is perhaps an outdated one, but the message of ‘people are not always what they seem’ is as timeless as Christmas itself.”

When you enter the intimate theater, early 20th-century recordings of classic Christmas carols play as wonderful Edwardian set furnishings and costumes by Vicki and Jessica Nelson enable the audience to journey to pre-World War I colonial French Guiana, where we meet the Ducotels, a merchant-class family struggling to keep their little general store afloat on Christmas Eve.

Anthony Rummel ably portrays Felix Ducotel, the hopeful patriarch of the family who lacks the ability to collect on overdue accounts. His wife Emilie is suitably performed by Tina Kailiponi. Her Emilie rightly nudges Felix to take command of their affairs, while subtly projecting that she is fearful of financial ruin. Hana Vale bursts into the production with a marvelous entry as the vivacious Marie Louise, young daughter of Felix and Emilie.

Two letters arrive early in the show, one announcing that Henri Trouchard (Lee Garrow), Felix’s repugnant cousin and primary financial benefactor, has arrived from France, and a second that reveals that his nephew, Paul (Elisha Cullins), has broken an engagement to Marie Louise.

Garrow gives a triumphant performance as the odious Henri whose eventual departure will not be grieved by anyone. Cullins equally champions the arrogant and infantile Paul.

With Marie Louise now on the verge of self-destruction and Henri demanding a full assessment of his investment, three Devil’s Island convicts descend from the roof they were hired to patch, having overheard all of the Ducotel woes.

In his greatest performance to date, Jim Oxborrow shines as the charismatic Joseph, who is serving twenty years for his fraudulent business practices. Orion Milligan charms as the impetuous and gallant Alfred, serving life for the murder of his stepfather, and Marc Levine amicably portrays Jules, who finds holiday cheer in simple pleasures.

From their entrance, the show belongs to the convicts who get the best Christmas present they could hope for — a chance to taste freedom if only for a few hours. Through several warm, quiet scenes and their noble efforts, we begin to like theses improbable “angels.”

“Our world is just like yours,” Jules tells Felix. “The only difference is we got caught.”

Enlisting the trio’s pet snake, Adolph, and using their criminal skills, the already-condemned convicts determine to help the Ducotels and remove all obstacles standing in the way of a Joyeux Noel.

* ProArts continues “My Three Angels.” by Bella and Samuel Spewack. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 17 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Tickets are $26. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 463-6550 or visit www.proartsmaui.com.

COMMENTS