By Emily Lindholm
Lyric Arts is “in the pink” with its latest enthusiastic and heartfelt take on Harry Segall’s 1930’s classic, Heaven Can Wait. This touching, thought-provoking comedy about love, life, and the gift of a second chance transports us back to a time when life was “swell” and, under the quietly precise direction of Mishia Burns Edwards, will resonate with audiences long after curtain call.
Immediately introduced to the unfortunate plight of a young boxer who is taken to Heaven sixty years too soon, Heaven Can Wait is an instant intrigue and treat for the eyes and the imagination. From invisible angels, to talking ceilings, to a few hastily-planned “body swaps,” the audience is led through a chuckle-filled series of comedic twists, trials, and tribulations as the Angelic officials try desperately to return Joe Pendleton back to Earth for good!
Joe, played by the charismatic Daniel Coleman, exudes enough youth, energy, and vibrant desire for life to fill five bodies, and finds his counterpart in Mr. Jordan, played by Corey Okonek, whose quiet authority commands the stage (whether he is there or not) and provides reassurance, strength, and charm in the face of a rather grave set of circumstances.
Along with the workout for the imagination, audiences will also find themselves exercising their laughs with the engaging screwball comedy stylings of Tim Como as Max Levine, Joe’s outspoken and less-than-fashion-forward boxing manager, as well as in the mishaps involving the haphazardly hidden extramarital affairs of Mrs. Farnsworth and Tony Abbott, played by Alison Anderson and Tom Benson, skillfully blending physical comedy with high class propriety to create a scandalously clever dynamic to the overall performance.
Acting aside, the seamless costuming, perfectly patterned set, and nostalgia-inspiring swing music combine effortlessly to create a world that could have been pulled straight out of an early Frank Capra film. The period accuracy of everything from the set dressings, to the shoes, to the full-sized baby grand piano lends to such an impressive amount of believability that Cary Grant himself could walk through the door at any moment, and the audience wouldn’t bat an eye.
Although deeply steeped in 1930’s and 40’s culture, the themes throughout Heaven Can Wait are quintessentially timeless. Life, love, loss, and the pricelessness of time spent with those who matter most continue to ring true today, and this performance at Lyric Arts allows for yet another intimate and heartfelt opportunity to explore the diverse, and yet unifying, facets of the human condition.
All in all, the dedication and precision of the production crew, along with the endearingly upbeat talents of the cast allow Heaven Can Wait to radiate straight off the stage and into your heart, and is bound to leave audiences of all ages positively “tickled pink.”
A little about Emily: Emily is a rising senior at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania studying Sociology and Peace & Justice Studies. A native of Champlin, Emily is very much familiar with the “goings on” at Lyric Arts, and is also acting as the Communication and Development intern this summer. In her spare time Emily enjoys partaking in the Twin Cities comedy club scene and taking any spiced chai tea latte that comes her way!