Angel (musical)

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Angel (musical).jpg
Broadway Playbill
Music Gary Geld
Lyrics Peter Udell
Book Peter Udell
Ketti Frings
Basis Thomas Wolfe novel Look Homeward, Angel
Productions 1978 Broadway

Angel is a Broadway musical that opened at the Minskoff Theatre in New York on May 4, 1978.

It was based on Ketti Frings’ theatrical adaptation of the best-selling Thomas Wolfe novel Look Homeward, Angel. The play (with the same title as the novel) was a 1958 Pulitzer Prize winner.

The musical featured songs with lyrics by Peter Udell and music by Gary Geld - the same team who created the musicals Shenandoah and Purlie. Frings and Udell collaborated on the book. Angel was directed by Philip Rose and choreographed by Robert Tucker. The production featured costumes by Pearl Somner, lighting design by John Gleason and scenery by Ming Cho Lee.

For her performance, Frances Sternhagen received a 1978 Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. Additionally, Joel Higgins was nominated for a 1978 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.

The musical was savaged by the critics, and closed on May 13 after only five performances.


Angel is set in Altamount, North Carolina in the fall of 1916. In Act One, the scene is the Dixieland Boarding House. In Act Two, Scene One is set in Gant's marble yard and shop; and Scenes Two and Three are set again in the Dixieland Boarding House.

Original Broadway cast[edit]

  • Donna Davis – Helen Gant
  • Joel Higgins – Ben Gant
  • Patti Allison – Mrs. Fatty Pert
  • Grace Carney – Mrs. Snowden
  • Don Scardino – Eugene Gant
  • Frances Sternhagen – Eliza Gant
  • Elek Hartman - Will Pentland
  • Rebecca Seay - Florry Mangle
  • Justine Johnston – Mrs. Clatt
  • Gene Masoner - Jake Clatt
  • Billy Beckham – Mr. Farrell
  • Jayne Barnett – Miss Brown
  • Leslie Ann Ray – Laura James
  • Fred Gwynne – W. O. Gant
  • Daniel Keyes – Dr. Maguire
  • Rex David Hays – Joe Tarkington
  • Carl Nicholas – Reed McKinney
  • Norman Stotz – Tim Laughran
  • Patricia Englund – Madame Victoria

Critical response[edit]

Reviewing for The New York Times, Richard Eder wrote:

  • " a damp and oppressive amalgam of bathos. It has lyrics of the consistency of cornbread soaked in milk, a whole collection of indifferent performances and a score of sufficient banality to furnish a number or two for the piped music on airplanes waiting to take off."
  • "The performances have no shine to them; at best they are losing battles."
  • "Mr. Geld's score is so thin and trite as to make us notice Don Walker's orchestration. Its vulgarity is unfailing."
  • "It is putting things too strongly to call "Angel" a disaster. It is a desert."


External links[edit]