ESP Presents MY THREE ANGELS by Sam & Bella Spewack, 12/17
Back to the Article
by BWW News Desk
My Three Angels is set on Christmas Eve 1910, on a colonial island in French Guiana called Cayenne. On this island there is an exile-prison for French criminals; the criminals are occasionally put on leave to aid the colonists. Bon, non? Well, in this case, three convicts - Joseph, Jules, and Alfred - begin by patching the Ducotel family's roof and end by putting their whole house in order - with a little help from their occasionally venomous friend Adolphe.
My Three Angels is a terrific holiday black comedy, a hit in its 1953 Broadway production, which featured Walter Slezak and young Darren McGavin. It was produced for live television, and it has had had two movie adaptations - as "We're No Angels" - one in 1955, which made a few changes to the plot, and another in 1989, in which the plot was altered so much by screenwriter David Mamet as to be virtually unrecognizable. Both movies have their charms - but here's ESP's reading of the original, just in time for Christmas.
Sam and Bella Spewack were the authors of Boy Meets Girl, (another marvelous comedy, and on ESP's shortlist) and the books for the Cole Porter musicals Leave It to Me (based on their play Clear All Wires) and Kiss Me, Kate (perhaps their most oft-revived work). They were colorful characters themselves. Both were transplants from Eastern Europe - Bella from Romania, and Sam from the Ukraine - who came to the United States as children. They were active in reporting for socialist newspapers, and in the 1920s they were news correspondents in Moscow for four years. When they returned to the USA, they began working on Broadway and in Hollywood - they concocted the great Irene Dunne-Cary Grant film comedy "My Favorite Wife", among other movies. Sam was also a novelist and stage director; Bella did public relations work for the Girl Scouts of America, and is one of several people credited with inventing the idea of Girl Scout cookies!
Please note the change from our earlier-announced date... While ESP is striving to have our readings regularly on the second Monday of each month, there is a specific reason for our change this month. Our theater community lost an incredible champion on November 15th when Seattle Rep Arts Education Director Andrea Allen lost her battle with cancer. There will a celebration of her life and the extraordinary contribution she made to Seattle theatre on Monday, December 10 at 6 p.m. at the Bagley Wright theatre, and we are moving My Three Angels to Monday December 17 so that everyone may attend the memorial. To learn more about Andrea, go to http://www.seattlerep.org/About/Andrea.
Admission is by donation; doors open at 6:30, and the reading begins at 7:00 p.m.
The North Seattle Community College venue is called Stage 1, and it's in the Library building on the campus (the official address of which is 9600 College Way N (98103), should you want to Mapquest or Google Map it.) The college is West of I-5 (and Northgate Mall).
ESP is a confederation of Seattle theatre artists dedicated to presenting plays that seldom get full productions. In the present economic straits in which regional theatre now finds itself, much of the so-called established international repertoire is neglected, for various reasons: there are too many different settings, or the casts are too large, or, simply, the publicity requirements of selling a play that is both "old" and unfamiliar to general audiences may seem too daunting.
We feel that while it is an essential duty of theatres to develop new work, our group sees a parallel need to celebrate older or otherwise neglected plays, and to explore the genius of playwrights such as Maxwell Anderson, George Abbott, Harold Brighouse, Arthur Wing Pinero, and so many more. Through our simply staged presentations, we hope to lend live voices to plays that are now silent on our bookshelves. For more about us and previous shows, visit us on the web.