Tony Kushner Plays Given New Life in Angels In America Revival
On February 23, 2018, Angels in America begins previews at the Neil Simon Theatre, in repertory alternating the two parts of this early 1990s epic: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, both subtitled A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. Set in the 1980s during the AIDS crisis, Angels in America burst onto the New York theatre scene in 1993, with both plays individually winning back-to-back Tony Awards for Best Play, and with Millennium Approaches also winning the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. This groundbreaking work by Tony Kushner, whose other credits include writing the book and lyrics for the 2004 musical Caroline, or Change, earning Tony Award nominations for both book and score, as well as the screenplay for the 2012 film Lincoln, earning him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. He also co-wrote the 2005 film Munich, also earning a nomination for the same award. Beyond this accolades, he has written countless works for the theatre, the most recent being The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. In 2013, he received the National Medal of Arts Honor from Barack Obama. From Kushner’s mind sprang forth this complex dual play, which offers great vehicles for many performers.
This production is directed by Marianne Elliot, a British director whose remarkable track record on Broadway includes War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, both transfers from London’s National Theatre, both of which won the Tony Award for Best Play, and both of which were rare straight plays to go on national tours in the U.S. She now returns to Broadway for the third and fourth times simultaneously with these two productions of Angels in America. Like her previous endeavors, this show is a transfer from the National Theatre, where it was the fastest selling show in National Theatre history. While many audience members in London were seeing the show for the first time, it will be familiar to lovers of theatre in the U.S. This makes it somewhat of a commercial risk, given the epic length and highly competitive season, as well as the fact that it is a revival. Fortunately, the show is equipped with an excellent and well-known cast, all but one of whom transfer intact from the London production to New York.
Though this is the British production cast, the two leads are well-known American actors. Nathan Lane, whose numerous Broadway credits include The Producers, The Front Page, and It’s Only a Play, returns to Broadway to play Roy Cohn in Angels in America, a closeted gay lawyer who is based on a real man, and whose values are startlingly relevant in the Trump era. In addition, the role of Prior Walter is played by Andrew Garfield, well-known to audiences as the titular superhero in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), as well as from the films The Social Network, Boy A, Never Let Me Go, Hacksaw Ridge, and Silence, as well as his Broadway debut as Biff in the 2012 revival of Death of a Salesman, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. In the story, Walter is the protagonist, a gay man with AIDS who experiences heavenly visions. Additional roles include Susan Brown as Hannah Pitt, Denise Gough as Harper Pitt, Amanda Lawrence as The Angel, James McArdle as Louis Ironson, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Belize, and several others, all of whom are making their Broadway debuts. The one role that needed to be replaced due to a scheduling conflict on the part of the British actor is Joe Pitt, which is now played by Lee Pace (The Normal Heart). The schedule is that some days have performances of both parts of the play, and some days just have one, allowing audiences to choose whether to watch the entire epic at once, at different times, or just partly. The shows are scheduled to open on March 25, 2018.
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