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`Angels' is light, funny but a bit uneven

"Angels on the Loose" is a typical Hale Center production, full of gentle humor, charm, children - and some fairly abundant predictability.

It's sure to please ardent Hale Center fans.And although the opening night cast on Thursday (the show alternates cast members each night) was a little slow on some pickups and sometimes awkward with their lines, this show has nice potential.

If everybody becomes a little more polished and comfortable, it can make for a nice adventure where angels learn to be a bit more angelic and humans learn to love again.

The story is fairly simple, but the complexity of emotion tangles it up as spouses who've died and gone to Heaven try to orchestrate the love lives of those they left on Earth.

It seems Gabe Warner, played by Scott Wetsel, and Daphnee Connelly, played by Carrie Smith, want good things for their mates as long as they don't really love somebody else.

They want it so much that they keep overstepping angel behavior boundaries to make thunder clap. Once Daphnee even gets a time-out for saying, "Idiot!" But when it looks as if their mates will actually love someone else, they're jealous and unwilling to let it happen. That makes for some dilemma.

Dorothea Smith, played by Julie Ann Whittaker (in both casts), and Jannette Bronson, played by Lisa Moss, both want Craig Connelly - a doctor pretending to be anything but a doctor. Recently widowed, Connelly is apparently considered a good catch, and at the mercy of the busybody Dorothea and the more conniving (and wealthy) Jannette.

Liz Warner, played by Amanda Webb, is more Connelly's type, according to the two cupid angels - a harried widow left behind by her workaholic husband with two kids and a lot of material possessions to pay for.

Her children need a father. Dr. Connelly's son needs a mother and nearly everybody needs to take a little more time with their character development.

Connelly is awfully stiff, though he and Liz are well-cast to be a couple. Dorothea is a little over the top, as is Jonathan Wanamaker as the asthmatic computer nerd Anthony Warner.

However, Wanamaker is a lot of fun with his precociousness, as he brutally informs Connelly he ought to steer clear of computers.

The little angel, played by Cassandra Hill, hoping she becomes more than a twinkle in potential dad's eye, is a real addition. Most of her lines are delightful and quite funny.

The play is set in a more modern time than most Hale productions, and the costuming is very simple. The set is a living room that changes very little. Music is from the 1950s.

The whole show is an interesting mix of witty dialogue interrupted by a fair amount of the kind of teaching moments not normally expected to come from children: People are more important than things, one should focus more on what's been done right instead of what's been done wrong.

The main characters rather suddenly go from being complete strangers to companions on a water skiing adventure. There are also some crazy transitions, as when people are abruptly left in the living room in a stranger's home. It can be difficult to believe at some points.

The play is somewhat unsettling and frequently chaotic as people come and go at a rapid pace. There's very little time to adjust to changing emotions.

Sometimes the only real consistency is the fact that Jeff Connelly, played by Nick Peterson, will always have to get the door.

That isn't to say you shouldn't see this show. It's light, fun and some lines aren't to be missed.

It's just a bit uneven.