Technical wizardry and some truly fine comedic performances lift Penobscot Theatre Company’s production of “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” above playwright Mitch Albom’s maudlin and mediocre script.

Albom, author of the bestselling memoir “Tuesdays with Morrie,” could not resist turning a hysterical story about a report that a couple of Alabama duck hunters have shot an angel into a morality tale about going home again and facing one’s past. If he’d have stuck to a yarn about tabloid journalism and a burnt out reporter rekindling his investigative instincts, “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” would have been a much better play with a more satisfying ending.

The play, directed by PTC’s producing artistic director Bari Newport, is technically demanding. The company’s design team executed a flawless and seamless staging of the production at Friday’s final dress rehearsal.

Jonathan Spencer’s set is magnificent and fills nearly every inch of the Bangor Opera House stage. The swamp, replete with tall trees covered with hanging moss, a mud hole and a car, is so realistic, theatergoers can almost smell the fetid foliage. His use of hidden set pieces surprises and delights the audience, and the complex lighting design complements the set as it switches moods as quickly as the characters do.

Spencer and the rest of the company’s design team — costume designer Kevin Koski, sound designer Brandie Larkin and properties designer Meredith Perry — really are the stars of this show. Koski earns extra kudos for those beatific angel wings.

While Albom may not have intended for brothers Duane and Duwell to be the central characters in his story, as portrayed by Arthur Morison and Doug Meswarb, they are the hysterical heart of this production. When they’re not on stage, “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” loses its energy and momentum.

Once the brothers are joined by the tabloid’s photographer, Lenny, played by stand-up comic Brian Michael, the antics ratchet up a notch or two. The trio’s comedic timing is perfect. They play off each other in a way that’s reminiscent of brothers Larry, Darryl and Darryl in “The Bob Newhart Show,” although they are anything but silent in this production.

Jaded reporter Sandy, whose penchant for gambling caused his fall from legitimate journalism to a tabloid, is played by Andrew Crowe. From his lackluster performance Friday, it was hard to tell Crowe was the same actor who gave such an energetic and charismatic performance last fall in PTC’s production of “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash.”

The actor exudes some charm in scenes with Amelia Forman-Stiles, who portrays the love Sandy left behind, and Morgan Wiercinski as a young store clerk, but Crowe allows the character to nearly disappear in the swampland when he’s onstage with Morison, Meswarb and Michael.

Channeling some of the energy he showed in “Ring of Fire” could be the sugar that allows the audience to swallow Albom’s moral medicine.

Forman-Stiles and Wiercinski give lovely performances in two ill-defined roles as the only women in the show, except for the angel. Wiercinski is especially good at portraying a young person hungry to leave small-town life for adventures in the big city.

Ben Layman, Neil E. Graham and Greg Littlefield round out the fine cast. Layman as Sandy’s editor, Lester, channels Perry White from the old “Superman” television show. Barking orders and demanding his reporter get the story and photographer get the shots before TV does, Layman plays the character as if he’d been raised in a newsroom.

To her credit, director Newport emphasizes the comedy in “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” and pushes her three Ms — Morison, Meswarb and Michael — to test their comedic skills with fantastically funny results. However, she needs to help Crowe channel his inner Johnny Cash so the audience cares what decision Sandy makes about his future.

“Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” will be performed at the Bangor Opera House through May 15. Tickets can be purchased at, by phone at 942-3333 or at the box office.

Editor’s Note: The Bangor Daily News is sponsor of the Penobscot Theatre Company.