Sean Thompson makes his West Coast debut with 42nd Street Moon in a production of the Rodgers and Hart masterpiece, “I Married an Angel,” now playing at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco. Thompson plays Count Willy Palaffi, a wealthy Budabest banker who seeks a perfect bride. The show is full of LGBT energy, though. In real life, Thompson is a proud member of the LGBT community. The show’s lyricist and author, Lorenz Hart—a legend among Broadway and Hollywood musical buffs—was also gay.
Thompson has been in everything from Shakespeare plays to Sunset Boulevard, but he has never wrestled an angel, or let loose in our culture-rich hub. We caught up with him as he was preparing for the run.
BT: What are you most looking forward to during your time in San Francisco? Have you ever lived in the city or visited here before?
ST: Prior to working for 42nd Street Moon, I had never visited the Bay Area before. I am from Philadelphia, and that means the landscape and climate here in San Francisco are just foreign to me. So, I’ve been making it a point to engage what I believe to be my adventurous spirit by simply exploring the hills and valleys, the distinct neighborhoods and serene thinking spots of this very beautiful city. I like to let myself get lost around town; I have found that to be a sure-fire way of bumping into San Francisco’s really unique culture and vibe.
BT: Why did the role of Count Willy and this particular musical appeal to you?
ST: To be honest, I had never heard of the Count or the musical before auditioning for this production. When I did start working on it, however, I was instantly attracted to the glamour of the lifestyle the characters lead in I Married an Angel and to the silly fun it is to watch really rich people in a time and society gone by deal with their petty issues and little dramas. This play is about a man marrying a real-to-life angel, of course, so that makes it unique and enticing enough. I fell in love with the role when I discovered some of its really lovely ballads, such as “I Married an Angel” and “Spring is Here,” and some of its truly sweet and moving moments between the Count and his celestial bride-to-be.
BT: So many of us are Rodgers and Hart fans, but are not very familiar with this particular musical. Although it had an extensive Broadway run in the late 30s, do you think it’s a relatively undiscovered treasure by today’s audiences?
ST: I think it is definitely undiscovered. Nine out of ten people I’ve told about coming out here to do this show said to me, “Hmm, I’ve never heard of that.” Even the score seems to be undiscovered, which is a shame, because some of this music is breathtakingly easygoing and beautiful.
BT: Please share some of the highlights of the show, and what we audience goers have to look forward to.
ST: When you see the show, you’re going to hear some extraordinarily talented singers performing music that isn’t common to hear anymore. You’re going to see some top-notch dancing, including lots of tap, some waltzing, and even a foxtrot. I
personally guarantee that you will feel charmed and uplifted by the
final curtain, too. There is no way you’ll leave the theatre without
blissfully humming away the title tune, “I Married an Angel.”
BT: Are there any elements of the show that you think will resonate particularly well with LGBT theatergoers? The plot concerns marriage, and this has certainly been a great year for us here in CA, in terms of marriage equality.
ST: Of course, we know the lyricist and author of “I Married An Angel,” Lorenz Hart, was gay, and his breathtakingly beautiful lyrics infuse the show. Gays were intrinsic to the development of American musical theatre. Think of Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein and Jerry Herman, to name a few. Beyond that, there has always been an affinity between the LGBT community and the world of fabulous musicals, and I think this show should be no exception! And congratulations to Californians now heading down the aisle. Anyone who has recently married their own “angel” should enjoy this light-hearted look at the ups and downs of wedded bliss to someone who might be just a little too perfect.
I’m more than thrilled to be performing in such a heartwarming piece. I hope audiences will come with the intention of throwing their cares away for a couple of hours to be delighted — simply delighted and charmed.
For information or to order tickets, call (415) 255-8207 or visit 42ndStMoon.org.