‘Angels’ takes flight with tax credits

Musical to bow at Strand Theater in Louisiana

New Broadway-targeted tuner “Angels” will be the first to take advantage of tax credits offered to live performance producers by the state of Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

“Angels,” a technically ambitious musical capitalized at $14.5 million, bows at the Strand Theater in Shreveport, La., in August ahead of a Gotham run planned for sometime during the 2008-09 season.

According to producers, about 25% of what is spent in Louisiana (and 100% of trucking costs) is eligible for tax credits under the recently enacted Louisiana Act 482, a producing incentive for live productions that mirrors similar credits offered to producers of films.

“Angels” is written by a pair of Aussie tyros, with Ken Lai penning the tunes and co-writing the book and lyrics with Marcus Cheong, also a producer. (Australian public TV is currently shooting a docu about the duo’s first Rialto experience.)

Plot centers on Sera, the Angel of Light, whose ambition is preyed upon by the devil.

As Lucifer, Robert Cuccioli (“Jekyll & Hyde”) toplines a cast that includes Jessica Grove (“Sunday in the Park with George”) as the angel. Rich Fowler directs.

Producer Dale Smith, also a co-producer of “Xanadu,” talked up a planned charitable component to be associated with the show, with an announcement pending regarding a foundation the show’s participants aim to put together.

“We’re going to be building a social consciousness around this,” Smith said.

Production will include a significant amount of aerial work and flying effects by ZFX, Inc., and a complicated lighting and projection design from Howard Werner and Charles Foster of Lightswitch (“Lestat”). Sets and costumes are by G.W. Mercier, who designed the “Finding Nemo” musical at Disney World.

Lynne Hockney, whose credits include pics “Titanic” and “True Lies,” choreographs.

Cheong, Smith and Frank Monteleone produce, with Tamara Lovatt-Smith as producing associate and Bob Blume as consulting producer.

“Angels” began rehearsals June 30, and will play Shreveport Aug. 29-Sept. 13.

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