A Musical in 2 acts. Book by Terence McNally: Music by John Kander; Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Martin Beck Theatre, Broadway - 9 March, 1984 (204 perfs)
Cambridge Theatre, London - 17 February, 1988
This innovative musical is set in a Coney Island of the mind, on the ragged fringe of the New York show-biz world. Anna's roller rink is about to be demolished and with it Anna's sour memories of her husband and daughter. The rink becomes an extra arena in which mother and daughter examine their past, present and future.
Angel Antonelli is discovered with suitcase and knapsack at a bus station. She sings about her days of loneliness and confusion and dreams of returning to her childhood past.
It is the late 70s. Six Wreckers have come to begin the demolition of a once glorious Roller Rink that sits sadly at the edge of a seaside Amusement Park. They meet Anna Antonelli who has sold the Rink and is today flying off to Rome free of the responsibilities of running the Rink. This is the "home" Angel returns to after an absence of fifteen years. It is bad timing for a reunion of mother and daughter. Right away resentments surface. In no uncertain terms Anna tells Angel what she thinks of Angel's abandoning her for the life of a hippie.
As if the Rink had ghosts of the past trapped in the high girders flashbacks' unfold the story of how these two women got to this point in their lives. It is suddenly 1950 and Dino, the young charming husband and father, appears with presents of rare Venetian blue crystal: In the present, one of the Wreckers offers to buy the blue crystal goblets. Angel resists. She wants everything left as it was. She tries to explain that she has nowhere left to go. She has come home to find peace. But, how did the Rink get so run-down? Where is the mirror ball? This triggers the memory of Angel's fifth birthday, when Dino, having returned from the Korean War, comes home in the middle of the night, drunk, with his buddies and wants a party. He has a mirror ball for his little girl. His song turns into a dance and a toast to the Rink. But the friends disperse when Dino becomes violent and moody. Nothing is the same after the war. Alone, Anna tries to comfort him.
It is only at this point that Angel becomes aware that the Rink has been sold. Mother and Daughter are at it again. "This is my home. Nobody's tearing this place down. I live here!". "Wrong. You used to live here!" They storm upstairs into the apartment. The Wreckers make fun of the two ladies' reunion. Angel comes flying downstairs waving a document. In order to sell the Rink, her mother has forged her name. Angel tells of her plans she has for a new rink and social centre. Now Angel is waiting for the lawyer to call back. She intends to get a court order to stop the demolition. Anna tries to explain that it's not just the Rink, the whole Amusement Park is coming down. Times have changed. The boardwalk is not theirs anymore. Teenage punks carrying radios roam the park with the threat of violence. In a flashback, Anna and her friends, Mrs. Silverman and Mrs. Jackson wonder what happened to the old days and Angel learns that Anna has been brutally mugged right on the boardwalk. With great sadness, Angel stands firm. She won't give up her dream, her coloured lights.
Angel offers her mother a "toke" of marijuana. At first, Anna refuses then smokes expertly, having seen it done on TV. For a "stoned" moment the two come close together, realising they're not so very different . Angel wants to know who's going to Rome with Anna. They recall Good Old Lenny who, since high school, has loved Anna; how Anna married into the Antonelli family, although the disgusting Uncle Fausto objected; and how, after a while, Dino, trapped and restless, leaves his wife, his child and the Rink forever. But Anna tells the young Angel her father is dead. The lie, like a nightmare, evolves into a quintet. Alone, the young "widow" tries to raise her daughter and deal with her own deep emotional needs while Angel in her room hears her mother and the men in the night. Recalling this part of the past is painful for both of them. They retreat: Angel for some ocean air, Anna to finish packing.
The Wreckers, meanwhile, frustrated that their work is on hold, find old roller skates and comically skate round and round the rink. When Anna and Angel return, Angel remembers the events of her senior class spring prom. Anna had donated the Rink and gives her shy teenage daughter some pointers about boys and a dance lesson . It's a warm moment. But that is the night old Uncle Fausto, drunk and abusive, tells Angel her father is alive. Humiliated, hurt and traumatised, she packs her bags.
It is the 60s and she sings of her journey to the West Coast and her own experience among the flower-power hippie movement. Anna is stunned, saddened by these revelations. The door opens and a young girl enters. It is Angel's daughter. Like her mother, Angel raised this child by herself. She named her Anna. It is now or never. Anna begs Angel to forgive her. With great difficulty they say "I love you." Forgiveness frees them. As Mother and Daughter embrace, the past and the Rink are lifted up and away.
- Coloured Lights - Angel - "I was sitting on a sand-dune in Santa
1a - Underscore - "Coloured Lights"
1b - Wreckers' Entrance
- Chief Cook and Bottle Washer - Anna - "When
I sit and remember the past"
2a - Angel's Entrance
- Don't Ah Ma Me - Anna and Angel - "If the
earth had opened up"
- Blue Crystal - Dino - "Was it three
days? Only three days?"
4a - Music Cue - Blue Crystal/Korea
- Familiar Things - Angel -
"Under the roller coaster next to the jungle ride"
5a - Blue Crystal Underscore
- Not Enough Magic - Dino, Angel, Anna, Sugar,
Hiram, Tom, Lenny, & Dino's father - "There's
not enough magic, not enough sparkle"
- We Can Make It Happen - Anna -
"People may hurt us, we can take it"
- After All These Years - The Wreckers - "Gee! It's good to see you after all these years"
- Angel's Rink and Social Centre - Anna and the Wreckers - "I got plans, ma, lots of plans"
- What Happened To the Old Days? - Anna, Mrs Silverman and Mrs Jackson - "What happened to the old boardwalk?"
10a - Finale Act I - Colored Lights (Reprise) - Angel- "Beads and bleachers and coloured lights"
- The Apple Doesn't Fall - Angel and Anna - "I hate Uncle Fausto, God, me too!"
- Marry Me - Lenny - "Good Old Lenny"
12a - Arnie's Underscore
12b - Underscore - Blue Crystal/Korea
- We Can Make It (Reprise) - Anna - "People may
hurt us we can take it"
13a - Quintet Part I/Part II - Mrs A. - Anna, Angel, Lenny & Suitors
- The Rink - The Wreckers - "I planned on taking Polly
to the picture show"
- Wallflower Part I - Anna and Angel - "Never be a
wallflower sitting on a chair"
15a - Wallflower Part II - Anna and Angel - "You've got to stand, Baby"
15b - The Prom
- All The Children In a Row - Angel and Danny - "All
the children in a row leaving home behind"
16a - Music Cue - Garage Door
- Finale Act II (Coda) - "Here's to the Rink"
- Final Exit
(in order of appearance)
All roles in the flashbacks, men and women, are played by the Wreckers. The Cast: M5 F3 (playing multiple parts)
Reeds 1-4, Trumpets 1 and 2, Trumpet 3, Trombone 1-3, Violins, Cello, Guitar, Bass, Drums, Keyboards