A bright, shiny Christmas present

Who needs a film like It’s a Wonderful Life when you have My Three Angels live and in person to get you into the spirit of the season?

So . . . It is such a delight to know that community theatre is alive and well in San Luis Obispo County. Look no further than a mighty troupe of players, By the Sea Productions, which has taken on the task of presenting a bright, shiny Christmas present to all comers. This gift is in the form of My Three Angels, a little-known play that covers all the cheer, compassion, and even comeuppance you need in a dramatic holiday story, where everything of course comes out well in the end.

Greg DeMartini, Tim Linzey, Dan Costley

Written by Samuel and Bella Spewack and based on a French play, My Three Angels is set during a sweltering Christmas season in 1910 French Guiana. Three inmates of a French penal colony who are fixing the roof of the Ducotel family’s general store take it upon themselves to repair a few other things that need fixing when they discover some wrongs that need righting.

Of course, the idea of three convicts—two confessed murderers and one “inspired” bookkeeper—making things right for a hapless family about to be ousted by a ruthless businessman contains several heartwarming hijinks that you might, or might not, imagine. A poisonous snake? Well, it’s French Guiana, after all!

Thanks to every cast member, each one truly looking like he or she is enjoying every minute on the small stage at St. Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church in Morro Bay, you can’t help but enjoy unwrapping this Christmas present in their company.

Tim Linzey, Dan Costley and Greg DeMartini as the convicts are delightfully droll, and working together they bring a real humanity to conversations about what’s important in life and love. But it’s their escapades with a chicken (and the aforementioned snake) that will likely keep a smile on your face long after the play ends. Their characters may not emerge as conventionally “good” in the end, but Linzey, Costley and DeMartini have you in their corner throughout the show.

That’s not to say the other actors are shirking their responsibilities. Brett Mermer as the bad guy (no other phrase fits) makes you want to boo him from his first moment onstage. And Sheridan Cole (“as scatterbrained as a fox” per one of the other characters) is as busy a body as you could envision. 

The Ducotel family (a nicely befuddled Hank Wethington, a sharp Sharyn Young and the sweet ingenue Ali Abdul Rahim) provide the core around which the other characters circle. Justin Wessel and Redzuan Abdul Rahim round out the cast, well-assembled by Janice Peters, whose past acquaintance with the play led her to make this production her first full-on directing gig.

Peters, who also is credited with the set design, costumes, props, set dressing and more (all nicely done and appropriate to the period, especially in the confines of a small space and time) is a one-woman tour-de-force. If she hasn’t worn herself out with this show, audiences will surely flock to see what she can do the next time around. She has help from the talented Anita Schwaber acting as assistant director, and Rhonda Crowfoot makes stage managing look easy. Many others clearly contributed to the success that is this production.

My Three Angels is one of those community theatre rarities: when all the pieces come together to make audiences remember the value of amateur performance opportunities. A well-rehearsed and well-articulated production like this is a real treat.

Who needs a film like It’s a Wonderful Life when you have My Three Angels live and in person to get you into the spirit of the season?

My Three Angels is playing now through December 15 at By the Sea Productions, 545 Shasta Avenue, Morro Bay. Tickets here or call 805-776-3287.