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Fallen Angels
Asolo Repertory Theater

Fallen Angels
Hillary Clemens and
Kate Hampton

Life-long friends Julia Sterroll and Jane Banbury spend the second act of Noël Coward's Fallen Angels waiting for a long ago paramour and getting slowly more and more inebriated. The girl chatter and drinking is punctuated by one-upmanship remarks from saucy maid Saunders, who, if she can be believed, has held some extremely interesting positions before accepting the post with the Sterrolls, which must have been an extreme step down in life. The 30 minutes or so of this act are as screamingly funny as anything Coward ever wrote, and are played to perfection by Kate Hampton, Hillary Clemens and Carolyn Michel. The first act of the play exists mostly to set up the situation, while the third serves to give some closure to the story. Unfortunately, both are merely amusing, not representative of Sir Noël's best. Still, the second act alone is worth the price of admission.

The three women are supported by Jason Bradley and Andrew Carter as the husbands and David Breitbarth as Maurice Duclos, the long ago lover. None of the parts are all that interesting, partly because none of the men appear in the second act, but all of them give excellent performances. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Asolo Repertory Theater is watching the same actors play wildly different roles in the same season, often in the same week. Ms. Clemens, Mr. Bradley and Mr. Carter were the three friends at the center of Kaufman and Hart's Once in a Lifetime earlier this season. Ms. Clemens is starring in a production of Yentl (not seen or reviewed). Even though Once in a Lifetime and Fallen Angels are only separated by about eight years in their writing, they are worlds apart in style. Both are brilliantly served by directors who gave us very stylish productions, perfectly in tune with their eras.

Fallen Angels premiered in London in 1925 and was called scandalous and shocking by critics, which of course helped it at the box office. After the initial run it pretty much disappeared until it resurfaced a couple of years ago. Director Peter Amster has pulled wonderful performances from all involved and managed the clipped rhythms, so essential to Coward's work. His value to this production can not be over estimated.

Other elements contributing to the merriment are the fabulous costumes of Virgil C. Johnson, hair and wig design by Michelle Hart, and the sumptuous setting by Robert Mark Morgan. At the end of the first act, Ms. Hampton emerges, ready to go out with friend Ms. Clemens, both wearing very stylish '20s hats often referred to as a cloches, after the French style. The hats produced a slight gasp from various members of the audience, they are so effective, as are all the ladies' costumes.

Even with an imperfect play, Asolo Repertory has offered its audience a delectable morsel of 1920s fun and merriment.

Asolo Repertory Theater presents Noël Coward's Fallen Angels through May 13, 2012, at the Mertz Theater in the FSU Center. 5555 N. Tamiami Trail. Sarasota, Florida. Box Office (941) 351-8000. For more information visit www.asolorep.org.

Cast
Julia Sterroll: Kate Hampton
Fred Sterroll: Jason Bradley
Saunders: Carolyn Michel
Will Banbury: Andrew Carter
Jane Banbury: Hillary Clemens
Maurice Duclos: David Breitbarth

Director: Peter Amster
Set Design: Robert Mark Morgan
Costume Design: Virgil C. Johnson
Lighting Design: Aaron Muhl
Voice and Dialect Coach: Patricia Delorey
Resident Hair/Wig & Make Up Design: Michelle Hart
Stage Manager: Patrick Lanczki

EXCITING NEWS

Asolo Repertory Theater announced its 2012-2013 season last week, and it is a doozy. There is an overall theme to the entire season—"The American Character"—and it includes a musical that is near and dear to my heart, 1776, and four Pulitzer Prize winning plays, You Can't Take it with You, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Heidi Chronicles and the latest winner, Claybourne Park, soon to appear on Broadway. These are just the highlights, for more information visit www.asolorep.org.


Photo: MyUnionHouse Photography


Be sure to Check the current schedule for theatre in West Coast Florida

See the current season schedule for West Coast Florida

--William S. Oser



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