Thirty years after its Broadway premiere, Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches will receive an iconic re-imagining under the direction of the brilliant János Szász here at Arena Stage. On Tuesday, February 21, the cast and creative team came together for the first time to present their vision for the show and begin their great work.
The excitement was palpable at First Rehearsal! Arena staff, trustees, and donors entered the Fichandler to a panoramic view of the cast and creative team of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches. Costume and set design renderings were on display and the audience leaned in to hear more about what’s to come.
Now in its 30th year, this American epic has continued to touch as well as educate audiences around the world. It has been over 40 years since the start of the AIDS epidemic that has claimed more than 40.1 million souls, yet the play is still as relevant as ever.
Written by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Tony Kushner, Angels in America shares the lives of Louis and Prior, and Harper and Joe, two couples whose relationships are on the rocks. With a story so impactful full of characters who are all battling a war of their own, this production is sure to be filled with many surprises and the creative team had a lot to say:
Molly Smith, Arena Stage artistic director, spoke on her relationship with her dear friend and director János Szász. “Angels in America is over 30 years old. It’s a masterpiece, and it’s time for it to be reinterpreted in a radical way for modern audiences through a European lens. Reimagining the classics at Arena–which is what Janos is doing–is a fundamental part of our mission and although our focus is on American artists, we value the unique perspectives of artists from other countries to show us our own world through a different lens.”
János Szász, director, touched on his passion for the show and how important it is that we continue to tell stories that will always be relevant to us. “What kind of show are we going to do? A show about love, because so many people do not understand this love—and THIS is love. A beautiful, deep, suffering love story. We agreed to … bring it here because there are so many issues we need to talk about. I feel that as a theater director and to make a show like Angels in America, I have a huge responsibility. It cannot just be a show about the director, it must be a show for today—harsh and important.”
Maruti Evans, set designer, gave a touching presentation on how he felt it was important to commemorate the angels that were lost to AIDS. “I think in many ways we were trying to make a memorial for everyone that couldn’t be seen, which was a very difficult task, because how do you recognize that so many people were lost and never noticed? [The set includes] sand, and then around it is a grating, so you’re always aware that there is something below and something above.”
Oana Botez, costume designer, explained how the costume choices in every scene are not only important to the story, but also a statement to the world. “This play is incredible and the importance of it is the reality – the reality of how far love can go as well as how impactful the AIDS epidemic was to so many people. There’s a disease, there’s the love, the loss, but also the dream and life force. And life force is always bigger than death because we get to be in the middle of it and just go for it. We are opening with Belize [an openly gay black man who is working as a nurse] coming in drag and I think it more than ever so important to emphasize that especially with what’s going on around…”
This epic story plays from March 24 through April 23 in the Fichandler Stage. Tickets are on sale now.
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