courtesy photoAllison Rich

42nd Street Moon gives wings to ‘I Married an Angel’

The robust revival by 42nd Street Moon at the Eureka Theatre breathes life into “I Married an Angel.”

One of the less successful musicals by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, “Angel” began as a Hungarian fantasy by János Vaszary in 1933 and was intended as a film featuring Jeannette MacDonald.

The project fell through, but Rodgers and Hart — between the hits “Babes in Arms” and “Pal Joey” — put “Angel” onstage in 1938. After a good run on Broadway it toured, closing in San Francisco’s Curran Theatre in 1940; it has more or less disappeared since, except perhaps for the title song and the memorable “Spring is Here.”

The story is simple and flimsy: an angel descends to marry a banker and creates havoc with her ways, since excessive honesty and banking practices don’t mix well.

Eventually, the marriage and bank are saved when she forsakes her angelic side and opts to be an irresistible bad girl. It goes on to a big production number “At the Roxy Music Hall” and then the curtain.

Yet “Angel” has wings under company artistic director Greg MacKellan’s direction of a large, dedicated cast and accompaniment by Dave Dobrusky on piano and Nick di Scala on woodwinds.

The second act is especially vibrant and fun, with its uproarious visit by four angels to their fallen sister.

And the tacked-on Roxy Music Hall finale, which has nothing to do with the story, is worth the price of admission by itself. Choreographer Zack Thomas Wilde makes wondrous use of the Eureka’s postage-stamp-sized stage.

Kari Yancy makes the best of the demanding title role, while Sean Thompson as Count Palaffi wishes for an angel and salvation from bankruptcy.

Other standouts are the hilarious Allison F. Rich as Peggy Palaffi, who teaches Angel the ways of the world; Halsey Varady as the troublesome American girl; and vocally precise Bill Fahrner as Harry Szigetti, the rich friend who could save the banker … but will he?

MacKellan’s attention to detail is exemplified in the Hungarian characters pronouncing the capital correctly — “Budapesht” — while the American girl says “pest.”

REVIEW

I Married an Angel

Presented by 42nd Street Moon

Where: Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St., S.F.

When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 6 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays; closes Nov. 17

Tickets: $25 to $75

Contact: (415) 255-8207, www.42ndStMoon.org

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