Lamplighters Theatre production of ‘Duck Hunter Shoots Angel’ is a heavenly Deep South comedy

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Anything written by Mitch Albom, author of books such as “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” is sure to please. His play “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” takes aim for the heart just as much as his books do.

Lamplighters Theater in La Mesa will hold the production of the comical, heart-warming play, beginning September 2. In comedic but poignant moments about a tabloid writer, the play delivers insight into the human psyche against a backdrop of the Alabama swamps.

Anything written by Mitch Albom, author of books such as “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” is sure to please. His play “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” takes aim for the heart just as much as his books do.

Lamplighters Theater in La Mesa will hold the production of the comical, heart-warming play, beginning September 2. In comedic but poignant moments about a tabloid writer, the play delivers insight into the human psyche against a backdrop of the Alabama swamps.

Centering on Sandy, a once prize-winning journalist in Alabama whose success led him to the Big Apple, the story reveals the disappointments and regrets of his current career as a tabloid writer. 

“Who grows up wanting to write for the Weekly World and Globe? I don’t do it for art. Not even for satisfaction. I do it for a paycheck,” Sandy admits in the first few minutes of the play.

Larry Fox, who plays the role of Sandy, is also manager and marketer of the production. He could not be more excited about the show.

“I like this story because it takes the human element and plays upon it. It’s about a man’s life and the choices he makes. Life always moves forward, no matter what,” Fox said.

The two bumbling duck hunters in the swamps move the story along quickly and with true southern humor. Played by Philip John and Danny Deuprey respectively, Duane Early and his brother Duwell Early believes they have mistakenly shot an angel while out on an unsuccessful duck hunt. 

“I fell in love with this role. I get to use a southern accent and play off Danny, who is just great,” said John. He slipped into a pair of waist-high waders. “These will really help me get into character, too.”

In his role as Duwell Early, Deuprey admitted that his part is completely different from his own personality. 

“In getting to play this character, it’s like a suit I slip into. He’s authentic, an innocent,” said Deuprey.

A character in the play, simply known as “The Voice,” played by Ryan Payne, acts as a sort of conscience for Sandy.  When The Voice asks Sandy what he writes, Sandy replies what he honestly feels about being a tabloid writer. 

“I ask him about his motivation, his memoires and feelings about his past. My conversations with Sandy bring everything to full circle for him,” Payne said.

One of Sandy’s memories that plague him is that of a woman, played by Danielle Gulihur, who is simply referred to as “The Woman.” 

“I am the old love interest of Sandy who is always reminiscing. It’s a story told in flashbacks,” explained Gulihur.

“It’s a challenging role because the story is told out of chronology. So I have to imagine what she would be like, what she would like, her hair, her dress,” she said.

Another character who helps to shake Sandy out of his cynicism is photographer Larry, played by Edem Atsu-Swanzy. On their drive together down towards Alabama to interview and photograph the duck hunters and the angel, Lenny asks probing questions.

“What do you think guides people’s lives?” Lenny asks Sandy.

“Mistakes…and then you die,” Sandy answers.

“You’re a cold man,” Lenny replies.

When they stop at a gas mart called ‘Eat Here, Get Gas,’ Sandy meets “Kansas,” a 17-year-old girl who works as the station attendant. 

“She talks a lot about her mom,” said Marilyn Wallace, who plays the part. “The only person she interacts with is Sandy. She and Sandy end up finding out that the two of them are more connected than they realized. 

“I relate a lot to the part of “Kansas.” She says that her mom named her that because she loved the Wizard of Oz story, and there’s no place like home,” Wallace said. 

Finding home, both inwardly and outwardly, is essentially what Sandy looking for. It is the emotional crux of the story, which will have viewers alternately pondering dep truths and laughing. Gator Man, played by Stephen Tavares, dances throughout moments of the play. 

“Gator Man is the physical embodiment of a tabloid. He is whoever you want him to be, an abstract character,” explained Tavares.

The zydeco music of “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” has the Gator Man cavorting about, choreographed by Patty Fay. 

“This play is really over the top. I’m grateful to be part of the process, and Stephen is a joy to work with,” Fay said.

In rehearsal on the evening of August 22, the antics and insight of the duck hunting brothers had Artistic Director Mark Loveless laughing. “Good call,” Loveless said, giving them a thumb up.

Lamplighters Theatre is in its third season at its new location of 5915 Severin Drive in La Mesa. The theatre has had continuous productions for 65 years.

Show times for “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel,” beginning September 2 and running through October 2, are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. For ticket reservations, call (619)-303-5092.

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