Have you ever wanted to see It’s A Wonderful Life, but with a better dressed and boldly beautiful character? Then Times Square Angel just might be what you are looking for.
The story follows an over-the-top cabaret singer, Irish O’Flanagan (Ian Stroughair/Velma Celli), who has become a bit of a diva in her time on the circuit. Up in heaven, new angel Albert’s (Michael Adams) place is hanging on by a thread, so he has been told by God (who much to his dismay is a woman) that he has to try and help Irish change her ways, or he will end up in Hell.
Like all great Christmas tales we are guided through with a warm and welcoming Narrator (Ellen Verenieks) and she sets the scene with 1940s New York City. Set designer Philip Lindley brings that hint of New York City glamour with that urban-esque feel to it, which really adds to the feel of the show as a whole. And as the Union Theatre is not the biggest venue in the world, a lot was relied on the aesthetic of the show to give the audience the different worlds, and it worked well. The only nagging problem with the technical side of the show itself was the pre-recorded voiceover that was used when God was present on stage. You could hear the sound being cut when she finished her sentence, and if you are not technically inclined it will not be a problem, but for other people it might become a nuisance. But if that is the only thing wrong with the show itself, then we will just have to take it!
Stroughair plays our protagonist absolutely perfectly, and gives us wonderfully comedic moments throughout the short show. But his performance is pushed even greater when he plays against Eduardo Enrikez. When he plays both Chick and Georgie, Enrikez and Stroughair bounce off each other perfectly, and the moments when they are both on stage are the most memorable. But as a whole the cast really work well, and there is not one weak player throughout the show. Director Bronagh Lagan has seen where each strength lies in each member and really makes sure that they bring it to the show. So much so in fact, the cast made me leave the show hoping for just another ten more minutes in their presence.
Times Square Angel might not be the most original story of them all, but it is the most glitzy and glamorous Christmas story that you will see this year. Broadway might have Hedwig at the moment, but we have Irish O’Flanagan, and if her story does not get your Christmas blood going then you just might be a modern day Scrooge.
Times Square Angel is playing at the Union Theatre until 21 December. For tickets and more information, see the Union Theatre website. Photo by Darren Bell.