The Angel Capone by David Copelin
In 1931, notorious gangster AL CAPONE is in Alcatraz. Back in Chicago, he was a dealer “in used furniture,” and an excellent chef. He shares one of his recipes with us. He’s a bad man, but once he was an angel …
In 1928, aspiring actress LENORE SHLEMANSKY practices auditioning in an empty Broadway theatre. Stage doorman FRED HOROWITZ interrupts her, criticizing her approach to Shakespeare’s Juliet. Lenore’s mother ANNA, arrives and chastises Lenore. Anna threatens to report Fred for his cynical attitude. Lenore has chosen “Laura Seymour” as her stage name. Anna disapproves, but Fred likes it. He suggests that instead of going for classical roles, Lenore should audition for the Ziegfeld Follies.
Lenore has a day job putting makeup on corpses at SAUL ROSEN’s funeral home. Saul is in love with Lenore, but his clumsy card tricks and lame jokes anger her, and she quits impulsively. She auditions for Florenz Ziegfeld and is hired! Anna is appalled, and after a quarrel, Lenore moves out of her mother’s home. Six months later, Lenore has a day job with Broadway producer HAMILTON PRESCOTT. Anna tracks her down; she saw her in the Follies but did not come backstage. Hamilton fires Lenore as his assistant, only to hire her to play a supporting role in a production he’s staging in Chicago. That play is a big hit, especially with Al Capone, who is soon chasing Lenore. She resists his advances, but leads him on.
Lenore has written a play, but Hamilton doesn’t like it and refuses to produce it. Furious, Lenore quits his show and vows to produce the play, starring herself as a Russian aristocrat. She convinces Al Capone to put up half the budget by telling him that he’ll become known as a patron of the arts, and will be an “angel” besides. She gets Saul Rosen to put up the other half. The play goes on, but it is a disaster. Capone is furious; he’s out $5,000 and is a laughingstock.
Capone chases Lenore, Anna, Saul and Hamilton. They hide out in a Chicago funeral parlor. Capone finds them, but is seemingly duped by one of Saul’s magic tricks – he’s gotten much better than he was. Capone pretends to leave, but returns through the back door. He is ready to kill them all, but Hamilton offers him $10,000. Capone accepts this 200% return on his investment.
Impressed by Anna’s improvisations during the confrontation, Hamilton offers to cast her as Medea! Lenore scoffs at the idea of a Broadway actor named Anna Shlemansky, but her mother says she will now be known as “Anna Seymour.” As she puts it, “A wise mother learns from her children.”
Keywords: two-act, comedy, gangster, backstage, Jewish
Running TIme: 120 minutes
Male Cast: 3
Female Cast: 3
Cover image art by Ron Boyd