NAWPA: Angel’s Light Synopsis

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Angel’s Light
JudyLee Olivia

Rosa: Woman in her early thirties of Italian descent. She has short, dark hair and big brown eyes. She usually wears jeans and prefers to be called Rose. She works for a television ad agency.
Rae: Rose’s roommate in her middle twenties. “Rae” is short for Raynette. She is a blond beauty from Tennessee, struggling to be an actress. Her southern accent comes and goes as she needs it to.
Karl: Rae’s fraternal twin. He has brown hair and looks nothing like Rae, except in the eyes. He is tall and has had some initial success as a Broadway dancer. His southern accent is thick, but charming.
Sofia: Rose’s mother, nearing fifty. She is attractive, aggressive and business like, can be an overbearing mother, but has a close relationship with her daughter. She has been divorced for most of her life. Owns and runs an Italian pastry shop in the Village.
Angel: A Jewish man of indeterminate age. His hair was once dark but is mostly gray and unkept and he often goes without shaving. He is average height, and has deep set brown eyes.

All the characters portray a number of characters who come to life in Rose’s ad campaigns.

All of the action takes place in Rose’s apartment. She lives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Nothing in the apartment is fully realistic except for an old baby grand piano that takes up a goodly portion of one side of the room, and necessary pieces of furniture. There are several door frames, or cut away frames of doors leading to a bedroom, kitchen, the hall outside. Downstage to one side is a rooftop balcony. There may be obscure cutouts of the buildings of New York, with lights and windows, for a backdrop. Props are as realistic as necessary. It is August, late 1990’s, though we often move in and out of reality. The play spans several months ending on Christmas Eve.
Karl, the only not-gay-dancer in New York, likes Rose. Rose, an aspiring songwriter who makes her living writing ads for local tv, is trying to get over Freddy. Raynette wants to be the first one to portray “Tammy Wynette-the-legend” on Disney’s cruise ship. Rose’s mother, Sofia, secretly falls in love with Giuseppe, the violin player at Marchi’s restaurant. Then there’s Angel, Rose’s neighbor, an enigma to them all, appearing at odd hours, bearing gifts, and sharing wisdom that seems both profound and mysterious. But it is Aunt Cecil, Rose’s bald Aunt who never appears, who saves the day as the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Eve.

Angel’s Light, a full length romantic comedy, is an easily produced play with five characters and one set. The apartment building where Rose, Rae, and Angel live is supposedly “sinking” and tehy receive eviction notices for December — no room at the inn. All their dreams, ideas, and cultures collide and literally come to life in Rose’s ad campaigns. The Halloween campaign is a dream turned nightmare as each character, dressed in outrageous paper costumes, appears. The scene delightfully theatricalizes Rae’s Southern Baptist guilt over promising God the moon if only she can be a star. The Christmas campaign takes on a more serious note in the second act as we see a “Tea Time with God” brought to life courtesy of a Jack-in-the-box Jesus.

As the time moves from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas, Angel and Rose come to know each other. He makes his living as “an illegitimate artist.” His name has a story which he will only share if Rose agrees to a Jewish Barbeque on the balcony. Between visits from Angel and Sofia, and Rae’s rehearsals, Rose sings bits and pieces of the song she cannot seem to write. But as she learns more about Angel, the song takes on a new meaning. She hears music coming from the heavens, and gradually, Angel’s cryptic words and mysterious nature seem soothing and interesting and comfortable.

Each character, through strange and unrelated circumstances, has a sort of “epiphany.” They each “see the light.” Rae decides that “stand by your man” means God and she leaves behind her acting career after a late night encounter with a mysterious nun, Sister Cecilia. Could it be — Aunt Cecil? Sofia takes Giuseppe to the annual “A” Art exhibit to see this year’s “Still Life, At Midnight” by the mysterious artist who has contributed his work anonymously for over twelve years. Could it be — Angel? In the end, Rose sings for Angel, what she now calls “Angel’s Song”: “The midnight light/came and went/The myth of you, my heart relents/The song I heard, the silence came/Our souls embraced/I learned your name.”

Angel’s Light encourages us to look beyond the trappings of age, and what one looks like, past concerns of ethnicity and religion, to find our heart’s desire. It allows us to believe in angels and to dream what seems implausible while gently teaching us that even though “the winter’s sunlight is a deceiving warmth,” the light reminds and remains.

Synopsis written by the author.