×

Fallen Angels

For Noel Coward aficionados who don't exactly need another production of "Private Lives" or "Hay Fever," there's "Fallen Angels" at the Pasadena Playhouse.

With:
Maurice Duclos - Elijah Alexander
Julia Sterroll - Pamela J. Gray
Saunders - Mary-Pat Green
Willy Banbury - Loren Lester
Jane Banbury - Katie MacNichol
Fred Sterroll - Mike Ryan

For Noel Coward aficionados who don’t exactly need another production of “Private Lives” or “Hay Fever,” there’s “Fallen Angels” at the Pasadena Playhouse. While not quite a rarity like “The Vortex” or “Waiting in the Wings,” this marital five-year-itch comedy hasn’t appeared on Broadway in over half a century. For devotees, here’s your chance. For everybody else, you may understand why John Osborne and other angry, young playwrights of the 1950s briefly damaged Coward’s rep.

Fallen Angels” is real drawing-room, hand-on-the-mantle stuff. But to his credit, Coward never wore his existential angst on his sleeve like Osborne or Samuel Beckett. But the abyss is always there in his work. Imagine if Coward had written “Waiting for Godot,” subbed women for men, turned it into a flat-out comedy, and then after his unhappily married Julia (Pamela J. Gray) and Jane (Katie MacNichol) wait and wait, Godot actually shows up in the person of a long-lost French lover named Maurice Duclos (the sex-on-wheels Elijah Alexander).

Even though Julia and Jane have only been married to their respective husbands (the perfectly adequate and seldomly seen Loren Lester and Mike Ryan) for five years, helmer Art Manke has envisioned his two femme leads as a couple of Golden Girls who’ve watched too many episodes of “Absolutely Fabulous.” Gray resembles Joanna Lumley in one of her less electric perfs. MacNichol, wearing dreadful makeup and wig, has been made up to be an old harpy. Not that this isn’t a star turn: Imagine Billie Burke taking over for Bette Davis in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” It may not be what Coward had in mind, but she’s fascinating. And often funny in her extreme drunkenness as she and Julia wait for Duclos to arrive.

The age thing, however, is a problem. The title is “Fallen Angels,” not “Fallen Arches.” Even Tom Buderwitz’s detailed drawing-room set is all musty and cold-looking, the kind of thing that gives floral wallpaper a bad name. Julia and Jane aren’t yearning to reconnect with an old flame because they’re ready to break out the Fosamax. Coward is writing about something much sadder — that romantic passion can’t survive even a few years of young married life.

“Fallen Angels” is best known for its maid character, Saunders (the droll Mary-Pat Green), who sings, smokes, plays the piano, speaks French and knows all about golf balls and hangover remedies. A thousand sit-com writers owe Coward a real debt here.

Popular on Variety

Fallen Angels

Pasadena Playhouse, Pasadena, 658 seats, $100 top

Production: A Pasadena Playhouse presentation of a play in two acts by Noel Coward. Directed by Art Manke.

Creative: Set, Tom Buderwitz; costumes, David K. Mickelsen; lighting, Peter Maradudin; sound/composer, Steven Cahil; hair/wig/makeup, Judi Lewin. Opened and reviewed Feb. 3, 2013. Runs through Feb. 24. Running time: 2 HR.

Cast: Maurice Duclos - Elijah Alexander
Julia Sterroll - Pamela J. Gray
Saunders - Mary-Pat Green
Willy Banbury - Loren Lester
Jane Banbury - Katie MacNichol
Fred Sterroll - Mike RyanFallen Angels

More Legit

  • Broadway-Breakfast-Split

    Variety to Celebrate Second Business of Broadway Breakfast With Thomas Schumacher, Diane Paulus and Diablo Cody

    Variety has announced the lineup for its second annual Business of Broadway breakfast presented by City National Bank. Joining the breakfast on Oct. 7 is the president and producer of Disney Theatrical Productions Thomas Schumacher, who will take part in the event’s keynote conversation. In his position, Thomas oversees the company’s worldwide stage productions, which [...]

  • Sue Wagner John Johnson

    Tony-Winning Producers Sue Wagner and John Johnson Announce New Venture, Wagner Johnson Productions

    Sue Wagner and John Johnson, seven-time Tony award-winning producers, announced Wednesday that they have embarked on a new theatrical business venture, Wagner Johnson Productions. Under the name, they will produce and general manage a wide scope of theater productions. One of Wagner Johnson Productions’ current projects is a musical rendition of “Almost Famous,” which will [...]

  • Sam Rockwell and Laurence Fishburne

    Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne Starring in Broadway Revival of 'American Buffalo'

    Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell will star in an upcoming Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.” The show marks Rockwell’s first appearance on the Great White Way since his 2014 performance in the revival of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love.” The five-year absence saw him pick up an Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, [...]

  • Secret Derren Brown review

    Broadway Review: 'Derren Brown: Secret'

    Audiences love to be fooled, whether it’s with clever plotting with a twist, the arrival of an unexpected character or even a charming flimflam man with a British accent. The latter is Derren Brown, and he’s entertaining audiences for a limited run at the Cort Theatre, where he is playing head-scratching mind games and other [...]

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content