The holiday season is upon us, and for Tucsonans, that means slower traffic, delicious tamales, and wearing thermal socks underneath your sandals. For Oro Valley, however, it also means that the Great American Playhouse is bringing an instant holiday classic to the stage. “We’re No Angels” is an original story written by GAP staple Nick Seivert. Seivert’s writing style is noticeably different from frequent GAP penman Sean MacArthur. While MacArthur enjoys paying homage to cult Hollywood films, Seivert prefers completely homegrown allegories with little to no references to the silver screen. Being an unapologetic film-buff, I tend to prefer MacArthur’s witty movie-reference filled scripts, but there is still something respectable to be said about an entirely new product brought forth from the mind of a comedian such as Seivert.
“We’re No Angels” begins with the prime action already having taken place. Much in the way Jacob Marley is dead to begin with in Dickens’ masterpiece, “We’re No Angels” heroine Nellie “Thursday” Baxter (Erin Anderson) has already lost a hefty bet to sly gangster Michael “Moose” Moran (Stewart Gregary). And if Thursday can’t come up with the “10 G’s” she owes Moose, she will be forced to marry the despicable crook. All hope is not lost, however. Do-gooders Henry “Bashful” Jones (Seivert), Dennis “Duke” Johnson (Mike Claridge), and Julius “Junior” Moran (Randy McDonald) are determined to save the day. Proclaiming themselves in the likeness of the three angels of the bible, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the trio promises to pull Thursday out of the fiery furnaces of Moose Moran’s devilish grasp, and help make this the “best Christmas ever!”
The greatest holiday gift from the Great American Playhouse (other than the top notch food) is the way their cast seems to gel together so fluidly, constantly bouncing off of one another’s improvisations without as much as a hiccup.
Seivert is his normal hilarious self as Bashful, except this time something is different. Having penned the script, it is obvious that the actor is especially invested in his performance. Seivert seems more in tune with the play’s content than any other actor on stage.
As always, Randy McDonald stole the show with his endless energy as Junior. At times, I became exhausted just watching the youngster bouncing, dancing, and singing his way into the hearts of the audience. If the GAP is a machine, then McDonald is surely the battery, and the crowd just can’t get enough.
Erin Anderson appears to be women’s answer to the rambunctiousness of McDonald. Though Anderson has appeared on the GAP stage in the past, this time around it seemed as though the young actress has truly come into her own as Thursday. She raised eyebrows with her comedic timing, and outright talent. Anderson has evolved as an actress, and has now blossomed into something truly great.
Steward Gregory was a new face for me, and I must admit I was at first a bit disappointed that I was attending “We’re No Angels” on a night in which one of my favorite GAP players, Jesus Limon, was not playing the antagonist. But Gregory was quick to win over my affection. He was brilliant and hilarious as Moose Moran, sporting a nefarious mustache and fusing the accents of an Italian gangster stereotype with a Midwesterner.
Possibly my only gripe with GAP’s latest play is that Amy DeHaven’s talents seemed underutilized as Brainy Baxter. DeHaven is always oozing with charisma and genius, and it would have nice to see one of GAP’s brightest stars given a more dynamic role, one where her brilliance has free reign to pour out over the audience.
Sean MacArthur is, yet again, the most seasoned aspect of GAP as The Man of Many Hats. It almost appears as though the entire play was written around his unique ability to burst into a scene under a new guise, and transform the ambiance from moderately funny to downright hilarious.
Overall, “We’re No Angels” is well worth the trip, but how can it not be? It is the Great American Playhouse after all, filled with a delightful cast, slapstick comedy, audience participation, and of course, free popcorn.