The Angel Capone by David Copelin


This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent


Scene 1

Lights dim up on the interior of a Broadway theatre in 1928.

On the bare stage, there is a ghost light.

Al Capone enters. He's wearing prison stripes.

AL: Hey, folks. How're ya doin'? My name's Capone. Al Capone.
America's favorite bad guy. Don't worry, I'm still dead. But
thanks to the magic of the theeayter, here I am. Not so long ago, I
was Chicago's most successful dealer in used furniture, not to
mention booze and cooze. Also known as liquor and prostitution by
people more refined than me. That's all of you, right? Puritans
invented Prohibition. Prohibition invented organized crime. Organized
crime invented me. You puritans didn't see that comin', didja? But
then came the Great Depression. And I'm depressed. See, the Feds got
me in prison, on the Rock, Alcatraz, in San Francisco Bay. Not the
easy life I earned by usin' my brains, a Tommy gun, an' the
occasional baseball bat. But back in Chicago, I had style. I had
money. I had class. So don't believe everything you've heard. I
wasn't such a bad guy. I wasn't no devil. In fact, I was a angel
once. Al Capone? A angel? What is he, nuts? Well, I'll show youse.
But first, a little—what do ya call it? Exposition. See ya later.

As Al Capone exits, Lenore Shlemansky enters upstage.

Furtively, then boldly, Lenore makes her way down center, and speaks
to us.

LENORE: Hello. My name is Lenore Shlemansky. That's S-h-l-e-mansky,
with a y? Thank you for letting me audition for you. I have chosen to
play Juliet from Shakespeare's heart-rending tragedy Romeo and
Juliet. "O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo? Deny thy "

Suddenly, work lights bang up!


Fred Horowitz, the stage doorman, reveals himself.

FRED: You've got to be kidding.

LENORE: How dare you sneak up on me like that!

FRED: What do you think you're doing?

LENORE: I am rehearsing my classical audition piece. It's Shakespeare.

FRED: I got news for you, honey. Shakespeare's dead.

LENORE: Shakespeare is immortal!

FRED: Not on Broadway he ain't. Box-office poison without big stars.
And you ain't no big star. Besides, if Shakey wasn't dead already,
you'd've just killed him.

LENORE: I beg your pardon?

FRED: You don't know what Juliet's talking about.

LENORE: Sir, you are insulting.

FRED: Little girl, you are trespassing.

LENORE: Trespassing!

FRED: This is private property. You got no right to be here.

LENORE: I have every right. This is a theatre! I am Lenore Shlemansky,

FRED: I am Fred Horowitz, stage doorman. Get out.

Anna Shlemansky enters.

LENORE: What's wrong with my Juliet?

FRED: Jesus, girlie, I ain't a goddamn acting coach.

ANNA: Don't you swear at my daughter!


FRED: I gotta remember to lock that stage door.

ANNA (to Lenore): Did you think you'd get away with it?

LENORE: Mama, this is Mr. um

FRED: Horowitz. Fred Horowitz.

LENORE: Mr. Horowitz, this is my mother, Anna Shlemansky.

FRED: Pleased to make your acquaintance. Now hit the road, both of

ANNA: Sir, you are uncouth.

FRED: Yeah, that's what the wife says.

LENORE: Please, sir, if you don't tell me what's wrong with my
Juliet, how will I ever improve it?

FRED: Improve it, don't improve it, who cares?

LENORE: I care, and you should too. The theatre is a temple of Art,

FRED: Art. Ha! What word rhymes with art? Here's a hint: it starts
with F.

ANNA: Watch your language. There are ladies present.

FRED: Is that so? Tell me, Miss Shlemansky, is it? Are you a lady
or an actress?

LENORE: Both, I hope.

FRED: Nope. You can be a lady, or you can be an actress. Not both. So

ANNA: Don't you tell her what her choices are. That's my job.

FRED: Kid, don't get me wrong. You got moxie sneaking in here, and I
like that. But the theatre's dead. Dying, anyway. Now that the movies can talk,
it's only a matter of time. The flicks are here to stay.

LENORE: I believe in the theatre!

FRED: You can believe in the tooth fairy for all I care. Me, I believe
in entertainment. A little mindless relaxation keeps you from thinking
too much about your marriage. But art! Art makes you crazy.

ANNA: Apparently we have stumbled upon a philosopher.

FRED: Call me names, I don't care. Hey, Miss Shlemansky? You got
nice legs. Go see Ned Wayburn, try out for Ziegfeld's Follies, leave
Shakespeare to them what knows how.

LENORE: You like my legs?

ANNA: Don't encourage the ruffian!

FRED: Ruffian! Well, la dee da. Tell me, lady, you ever go to the
theatre? As a paying customer, I mean.

ANNA: All the time.

FRED: Why?

ANNA: To see great dramatic art.

FRED: "Great dramatic art." Phooey! Nobody except a few
pointy-headed snobs gives a damn about that crap. Regular people
just want good stories with happy endings, babes with big babambas,
sparkly clothes, and tunes they can hum on the way home. That's
what gets butts in seats and keeps them there.

ANNA: Lenore, your Mr. Horowitz is a philistine.

LENORE: Oh, Mama—

FRED: Philistine? Goddamn right. I'd just as soon kill you as look
at you.

ANNA: You've got some nerve! Your employer will hear about your

FRED: Ooh, I'm terrified. The boss hired me to keep riffraff out of
his theatre. Backstage, that is. As for riffraff in the audience, well, money
don't care who owns it. Hey girlie, what's your name, Lenore. Take a lesson.


FRED: Don't say, "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" with that big pause after "thou."
You ain't asking him where he is, like, "Where are you, Romeo?" You're asking
him, "Why are you Romeo?" like why is he Romeo, and not Joe Palooka. See,
Romeo's not on Mom and Dad's list of eligible guys, 'cause her parents and his
don't get along. Now, Juliet's got the hots for Romeo, but his name's in the way.
So she wants to know if he'll dump his family for her. If not, she's ready to dump
her family for him.

LENORE: Oh. Right. Of course. "Wherefore art thou Romeo?"

FRED: Louder.

LENORE: "Wherefore art thou Romeo?"

FRED: Better.

ANNA: You lied to me. You promised you wouldn't sneak into any more

LENORE: I didn't sneak. I came here to rehearse my audition.

ANNA: Audition! Pooh! You put makeup on corpses. What have you got
that people will pay to see?

LENORE: I am a thespian, gifted by the Muses!

ANNA: You're a lazy star-struck good-for-nothing. You barely graduate from
high school, you get a job smearing rouge on dead people's cheeks, but
does that satisfy you? No! You moon about, you eat me out of house and home,
and then you lie to me! Now come along, or you'll be late for work. Again.

LENORE: Goodbye, Mister. Thank you.

FRED: Yeah. Oh. Another thing. Change your name.

ANNA: Why should she?

FRED: "Lenore Shlemansky?" Are you kidding? Too Jewish.

LENORE: I have been wondering about that. What do you think of of
"Laura Seymour?"

FRED: "Laura Seymour." Hmm. Sounds British. Aristocratic, but not
highfalutin. And it'll fit on a marquee. Not bad.

ANNA: Out of the question! Come, Lenore.

LENORE: Laura. 'Bye, Mr. Horowitz!

Anna and Lenore exit.

FRED: Don't call us, we'll call you.—"Laura Seymour." With that mother? Ha!



Scene 2

Lights up on Saul Rosen's funeral parlor in Brooklyn, a little while later.

Saul is shuffling a deck of cards.

Lenore enters.

SAUL: Ah, Miss Shlemansky, here you are. Now pick a card, any card.

LENORE: Oh no, thank you.

SAUL: Why not?

LENORE: Mr. Rosen, please, I'm not in the mood today.

SAUL: Oh, Miss Shlemansky:

He sings:


LENORE: That's doggerel.

SAUL: Maybe, but every doggerel has his day.

LENORE: Not this day.

SAUL: What's the trouble?

LENORE: Family.

SAUL: Tell me.

LENORE: No. I'll just do my job.

SAUL: You're upset. I can tell.

LENORE: Please don't worry, Mr. Rosen. It won't affect my work.

SAUL: In that case, Miss Shlemansky, pick a card.

LENORE: Pick a card. Pick a card. Every day since I started working
here, I've had to pick a card before I could get down to business. Every day
I've picked a card. Every day you've guessed what it was, and every day you've
guessed wrong.

SAUL: Maybe today will be different. Only one way to find out.

LENORE: Please, Mr. Rosen

SAUL: Miss Shlemansky, what harm can it do?

LENORE: Oh, for heaven's sake. None, I suppose. Shuffle the deck.

Saul bows, and shuffles the cards with clumsy flair.

Lenore picks a card and looks at it.

SAUL: Now don't tell me.

LENORE: How else will you know?

SAUL: Wait it's coming into focus. It's yes! it's the trey of clubs.

LENORE: Mr. Rosen!

SAUL: I got it, didn't I?

LENORE: Yes! But how—?

SAUL: Rosen the Chosen does not reveal his secrets.

LENORE: Let's do it again.

SAUL: No, that's enough for today.

LENORE: Please. I feel better.

SAUL: No. Now we work.

LENORE: Mr. Rosen. Please. Just once more. You did that so well.

SAUL: You thought I'd never get it right, didn't you?

LENORE: I underestimated you.

SAUL: You won't do that any more, will you?

LENORE: No, I won't.

SAUL: Good. I'd like you to respect me.

LENORE: Oh, I do. I always have. And now, even more.

SAUL: Really?


SAUL: Then maybe if it's not too forward of me Miss Shlemansky, if you
like, you may call me Saul.

LENORE:Oh, that's so nice. Saul. I've always liked that name. If you wish,
you may call me Lenore.

SAUL: Lenore. You'll be Lenore, I'll be Saul.

LENORE: Not in front of the bereaved.

SAUL: No, not in front of the bereaved. Just between us. Shuffle?

LENORE: You shuffle. I'll cut.

SAUL: There.

LENORE: This is fun.

Lenore picks a card.


SAUL: Now, don't tell me. This time, it's the trey of clubs again. Golly,
what a coincidence.

LENORE: Yes, isn't it.

SAUL: I've guessed right twice in a row.

LENORE: Let me see those cards.

Lenore snatches the deck.

Saul gestures frantically.

SAUL: Ali Baba shazam!

LENORE: Trey of clubs. Trey of clubs. Trey of clubs. Every card in
this deck is a trey of clubs!

SAUL: Of course. I just said the magic words that made them all identical.

LENORE: Come off it, Saul. You're about as psychic as a doorknob.

SAUL: That's not very nice.

LENORE: Ali Baba, my Aunt Fanny. One of the forty thieves, you mean,
trying to pass off a force deck as the real thing.

SAUL: You know what a "force deck" is?

LENORE: Every card in the deck is exactly the same.

SAUL: You're pretty smart for a girl. Will you marry me?

LENORE: What was that?

SAUL: I said: Miss Lenore Shlemansky, will you marry me?

LENORE: Not that. What you said before.

SAUL: When?

LENORE: Something about how smart I am?

SAUL: Yes. You are smart.

LENORE: For a girl.

SAUL: And you are definitely a girl. I can tell.

LENORE: I have news for you. Women are smarter than men.

SAUL: Oh, Lenore, that's not news. And it's true. I can even prove it.

LENORE: Really? How?

SAUL: Easily. Now listen. Do men fall in love with women?

LENORE: Once in a while.

SAUL: Do women fall in love with men?

LENORE: All the time.

SAUL: Well, there you are. That proves that women are smarter!

A pause, while Lenore works it out.

LENORE: I suppose you think you're funny.

SAUL: I do. So when do you want to get married?

LENORE: Saul Rosen, I wouldn't marry you now if you were the last
man on earth.

SAUL: If I were the last man on earth, you'd have to take a number.

LENORE: Really? What happened to "I'd like you to respect me?"

SAUL: I wasn't the last man on earth then.

LENORE: You smug, smug mortician!

SAUL: Oh come on, Lenore. I just outsmarted you, that's all. It
probably won't happen very often. Once a week? Twice at most.

LENORE: That does it. I quit.

SAUL: You quit? Without notice?

LENORE: Oh, you'll notice all right.

SAUL: But we're on a first-name basis now!

LENORE: It's no good between us. No good. I can't work for an
insensitive clod.
Goodbye, Mr. Rosen. Have fun with your force deck.

SAUL: Who's insensitive? I'm very sensitive.

Lenore stalks out.

SAUL: What did I do? It was a joke! Come back. Please? Lenore?

Offstage, a door slams


[end of extract]


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