3/14/2013 - Funny things happen when angels fall from the sky. Particularly when it happens in the Deep South.
Bedford Off Broadway will perform New Hampshire’s premiere of Duck Hunter Shoots Angel by Mitch Albom this weekend, thanks, in part, to efforts by Director Joe Pelonzi. He says the play is fresh, funny and new, which is why he’d thought about putting on the play ever since he first read it five years ago. People tire of the same old shows all of the time, he said.
“If I’m flipping through the paper for a show to see, I’m going to pass by the things that have been done nine, 10 times, and levitate towards something I’ve never seen,” he said. “Plus, the nice thing about directing a play that’s never been done in New Hampshire is that audiences have no preconceived notions about what it’s supposed to be. You can be more creative with it.”
The Mitch Albom byline alone might draw in some more viewers; the author is known for New York Times Bestselling books Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One More Day.
“You can see his dry humor, not in your face, but the kind that sneaks up on you,” Pelonzi said in an interview between rehearsal scenes last Wednesday evening.
Debuting in 2004, Duck Hunter Shoots Angel is the first play Albom wrote that wasn’t based on a book. It follows a pair of “bumbling” Alabama duck-hunting brothers who think they accidently shot down an an angel, and a photographer-reporter duo, Sandy and Lenny, New Yorkers who were assigned to check the facts of this story down in Louisiana. Also thrown into the mix is a crazy boss, a half-man/half-alligator, a ghost and a shopgirl from a local Gasmart.
Sandy and Lenny work for The Weekly World and Globe (though it comes out twice a week), a supermarket tabloid that Sandy describes as “10 notches below The Inquirer.”
Sandy is a depressed writer; he left a girl for a job in the “big city,” originally from Alabama. It turned out a job that he despises. “I write crap,” he explains when asked his occupation in the play. “One: a lie, an exaggeration; Two, nonsense, junk; Three: rubbish, as in, ‘Will you clean up this crap?’”
David DuCharme, who plays Sandy, describes him as a “no-nonsense” kind of guy.
Lenny is also from the south, Louisiana. He’s full of sarcasm and is played by Paul Gauthier-Zayas. Gauthier-Zayas didn’t find it at all difficult to get into character; when he read Lenny, he interpreted a character mixed between Wanda Sykes and Judge Judy, full of sass and know-how.
Lenny is actually from Louisiana but left for New York, vowing never to return until now.
“Lenny escaped the South and hates the South, but he understands it,” Gauthier-Zayas explained between scenes at rehearsal.
His character is a fashionista, sporting cream-colored shoes and cream-colored pants, agitated that he has to dirty them up by walking through swamps and bugs while looking for angels.
“The one thing the place [the South] has going for it is its crispy doughnuts. … And my character loves doughnuts,” he said.
Gauthier-Zayas hadn’t read the play before he tried out but found a likeness right away. He too was born and raised in Louisiana, and he too moved up North to escape it.
“My favorite part is actually seeing Northern people pretend to be from the south. Especially when they get it right,” he laughed.
Two of those people who he says “got it right” are Jeff Richardson, who plays Duwell, and John Decareau, who plays Duane. The actors describe their brotherly roles as cliche, Southern redneck hicks.
“Originally, Joe [Pelonzi] told us to watch True Blood to develop our accents, but we wanted to be over-the-top,” Richardson said.
They compare their roles to Lloyd and Harry in Dumb and Dumber.
“It’s satiristic humor, not subtle at all,” Richardson said.