The first time I saw Angels in America, it was the original Broadway production of Millennium Approaches. It was amazing, life-changing theater. I remember a very intense feeling in the the audience, as if each word held the secret of life. It was very intense and extremely emotional. Together we laughed, grew silent in seething anger, and wept in despair. In fact, it was the weeping I remember most vividly - particularly the sobs that greeted the reveal of Prior Walter's first lesion. It was a special matinee performance during Gay Pride weekend in June 1994, and the wounds of the AIDS crisis were fresh.
|Amanda Lawrence and Andrew Garfield|
With incredible presence and flair, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett's Belize, is a fiery force of nature. His comic timing is spot on, as is his gift for walking that line between just enough and excess. But most remarkable is his innate ability to show us, with razor-like precision, the searing anger and proud resistance that lies beneath every barb. The other raging inferno of the cast is the wonderful James McArdle, who, as loud-mouthed but weak, politically charged but self-righteous, Louis Ironson, manages the impossible. He makes a very unlikeable, cowardly man compelling nonetheless. It is a shame that the Tony nominators couldn't make room for these fine actors.
|James McArdle and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett|
|Lee Pace, Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane|
Smartly, both plays are staged very differently, with Millennium Approaches the more conventional of the two, and Perestroika the more "fantasia." In both cases, though, fasten your seat belts. Angels in America is one hell of a ride.
(Photos by J. Kyler, Brinkhoff/Mogenburg and H. Maybanks)