New York and Connecticut theater reviews and news

New York City Theater

"Fallen Angel"
The Village Theater, Manhattan

In creating a rock opera about the fall of Satan, writers Justin Murphy and Roger Butterley have assumed a monumental task. Tackling the tale which forms the basis of our own Judeo-Christian mythology (or religion, depending on one’s point of view) is gutsy. That they have encompassed it neatly within a two-hour format is even more admirable.

But, alas, this sung-through opera is never equal to its promise. Its musical themes tend to be limited and repetitious. Not until the second act, when the action heats up, is more variation offered. As to the lyrics, repetition is also the name of the game. But the lyrics are so often drowned by the instrumental back-up that one is less conscious of this failing.

Yet the production itself is highly professional. Directed and choreographed by Josh Walden, “Fallen Angel” moves steadily through the story. God (or I Am, as he is called here) has just created Man. “Somethin’ Goin’ Down in the Garden,” God and Lucifer chant. But Lucifer, God’s favorite angel, becomes jealous, resents the time God gives the new creation. Lucifer foments revolution, bringing a corps of angels to his side. Thus the battle is launched--good and evil, angels and devil, fight it out.

Walden has a company of first-rate performers, whose voices are nurtured by the fine acoustics of the Village Theatre. In particular, the stirring voice of Robert E. Butterley (who plays I Am) has the opportunity to shine. But Mike McGowan as Lucifer, and other cast members, also empower the choral numbers. And, as choreographer, director Walden keeps the cast in constant movement, particularly in the wild devil scenes where boots and leather, lust and violence, prevail.

If the show could tone down its keyboard accompaniment and beef up its lyrics and musical themes, “Fallen Angel” might well come into its own.

-- Irene Backalenick
Aug. 16, 2006

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