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Signature’s Angels in America in the news

 


SIGNATURE THEATRE COMPANY’S PRODUCTION OF

TONY KUSHNER’S

ANGELS IN AMERICA

IN THE NEWS

PRODUCTION FEATURED IN THE NEW YORK TIMES AND THE LOS ANGELES TIMES

Signature Theatre Company’s (Founding Artistic Director James Houghton; Executive Director Erika Mallin) production of Tony Kushner’s ANGELS IN AMERICA: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, is now in performance at The Peter Norton Space (555 West 42nd Street).  The first New York revival of Kushner’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning play is directed by Michael Greif. The production, originally slated to run through December 19, has been extended a second time through February 20, 2011.

Signature Theatre Company’s Tony Kushner season is in the news as ANGELS IN AMERICA prepares for its opening night this Thursday, October 28:

Angels Earns Place in Pantheon

By Patrick Healy

The New York Times

October 25, 2010

“Angels in America,” Tony Kushner’s fever dream about Ronald Reagan and AIDS, love and abandonment, has emerged as the most influential American play of the last two decades. Now about to open in its first New York revival since an acclaimed Broadway run in 1993-94, the play has survived controversy and its own unusual, unruly structure to become a mainstay of the literary canon, produced on college campuses and taught in classrooms with the same reverence as “Death of a Salesman” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Sprawling and audacious — seven hours long, with scenes set in heaven and with an angel crashing through the set to bless an AIDS-stricken man as a prophet — “Angels” has even endured commercially. An HBO mini-series adaptation with Meryl Streep and Al Pacino swept the Emmys in 2004. And while the New York revival by the Signature Theater Company is no surprise for this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, theaters in Bloomington, Ind.; Denver; Salt Lake City; and elsewhere are mounting the play at the same time as the New York run.

That a play involving a gay Mormon and his drug-addicted wife is being produced without public fuss one mile north of the headquarters of the Mormon Church in Utah’s capital underscores how times have changed since “Angels” reached Broadway. That same year the portrayal of gay lovers dealing with AIDS in the Tom Hanks film “Philadelphia” was a cultural milestone. Today the gay parents with an adopted daughter are central to ABC’s Emmy-winning comedy “Modern Family.”

A firm belief in cultural change is embedded within the play itself. As the main character, Prior, says in “Angels,” “The world only spins forward.”

To read the complete story, click on the following link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/25/theater/25angels.html?src=twrhp

Career Zigzag, Changing Coasts and Galaxies

By David Rooney

The New York Times

October 24, 2010

IN a contemporary nightmare on YouTube titled “Zachary Quinto Cannot Escape the Swarm of Fans,” a mob of unrelenting Klingons outside a Hollywood event crowd in on the unnerved Mr. Quinto, shoving cameras and photographs in his face, demanding autographs as he struggles to navigate the two blocks to his car.

Such scenes are an inevitable hazard of the popularity he acquired over three seasons as the power-crazed watchmaker turned serial killer, Sylar, on NBC’s “Heroes” and as the intensely introspective Spock in the J. J. Abrams “Star Trek” reboot.

Yet all that seems a galaxy away as he eats breakfast at an unfancy diner on a quiet Midtown block of 11th Avenue, his only camouflage a baseball cap. When he pays the check, and a waiter shyly admits he’s a fan, Mr. Quinto graciously accepts the compliment before heading around the corner to a full day of rehearsals and a preview performance of “Angels in America.”

New York theater has possibly never been a greater magnet for stars of film and television than in recent seasons, but for a young actor whose career is in the crucial ascent phase, joining the ensemble of an Off Broadway revival seems an unconventional move. However, Mr. Quinto, 33, views “Angels,” the Tony Kushner diptych, as a strategic step in his methodical plan.

“This is hopefully a declaration of my intention to have theater be a much more significant part of my career from this point forward,” he said. “I look at the work that I’ve done so far as an investment to that end.”

Mr. Quinto plays Louis Ironson in the Signature Theater Company’s production of “Angels,” which opens Thursday at the Peter Norton Space. The role is in many ways the most challenging in the two plays, “Millennium Approaches” and “Perestroika.”

Louis abandons his lover, who has AIDS, at his time of greatest need and tends to avoid emotional exposure by hiding behind angry political screeds. Yet Mr. Quinto pierces the sympathetic core of a character tormented by his own failings and by the existential agonies of living in Ronald Reagan’s America.

“As I wrestle with how Louis behaves, and I get to know and understand the character more, I see in so many ways how he really is one of the most human representations in this ensemble,” he said.

One key scene in “Millennium Approaches,” in which Louis disgorges a sprawling coffee-shop rant about democracy, liberalism, tolerance, race, power and human rights is probably the hardest stretch of the two plays for an actor. Mr. Quinto not only makes the speech a spontaneous tirade, he also subtly communicates the Beckettian way in which Louis keeps talking in order to avoid facing his fears.

“He’s a very smart and thoughtful reader of text,” Mr. Kushner said. “He’s been ferociously committed to the thing since the first audition. Zach is a very tough Louis — impassioned and sharply aggressive, with a very intense sensuality.”

To read the complete story, click on the following link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/theater/24quinto.html?ref=theater

Backstage: Tony Kushner

By Patrick Pacheco

The Los Angeles Times

October 24, 2010

Among the many issues in “Angels in America,” Tony Kushner’s millennial epic about gay men coping with the AIDS pandemic in Ronald Reagan’s America, is that overused word in the national lexicon: “Change.”

The play offers an answer to the question: “How do people change?” — from a talking “dummy,” the mother figure in a western diorama: “God splits the skin with a jagged thumbnail from throat to belly and then plunges a huge, filthy hand in ….”

If that sounds painful. It’s meant to.

Nearly two decades after writing the passage, Kushner says that change, personal or political, hasn’t become any easier. On the eve of the first major revival of his Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, at New York’s intimate off-Broadway Signature Theatre, the playwright adds that, if anything, progress seems more painful than ever.

“Change is always about loss, and we’re losing all the time,” he says. “We tend to learn through holocaust, more effectively and thoroughly, than by anticipating the holocaust. It would be great if we could change our course knowing that if we don’t, then something truly horrendous and unforgiving is about to happen. But we rarely catch it in time.”

Graphing that all-too-human resistance to change and the complications that come in its wake is a leitmotif of the sprawling Kushner oeuvre, including “Angels,” the musical “Caroline, Or Change,” and his newest play, “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures.” The revival of “Angels,” directed by longtime Kushner collaborator Michael Greif, is the inaugural production of the Signature’s season devoted to Kushner’s work. It will be followed by the New York premiere of “Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide” (what the playwright calls “IHO”) and concluding with his loose adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s visionary “The Illusion.”

To read the complete story, click on the following link:

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/oct/24/entertainment/la-ca-tony-kushner-20101024

Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, the two parts of ANGELS IN AMERICA, are alternating in repertory.

Tickets for performances through December 19, 2010 are available for $20 through The Signature Ticket Initiative, which seeks to make great theatre accessible to the broadest possible audience. All regularly-priced single tickets ($85) are underwritten and will be available for $20 for every performance at The Peter Norton Space for the entire season, during a show’s initial run.

The Signature Ticket Initiative is made possible by the lead sponsorship of Time Warner Inc.  Generous support for The Signature Ticket Initiative is provided by Margot Adams, in memory of Mason Adams

Tickets for performances beginning December 21, 2010 will be $85. For the full performance calendar, to purchase tickets or for more information, please visit http://signaturetheatre.org/angels or call (212) 244-PLAY (7529).

ANGELS IN AMERICA features Robin Bartlett as Hannah Pitt, Christian Borle as Prior Walter, Bill Heck as Joe Pitt, Zoe Kazan as Harper Pitt, Billy Porter as Belize, Zachary Quinto as Louis Ironson, Robin Weigert as The Angel and Frank Wood as Roy Cohn.

Scenic design is by Mark Wendland, costume design by Clint Ramos, lighting design by Ben Stanton, sound design by Ken Travis, projection design by Wendall K. Harrington, music by Michael Friedman and Chris Miller, hair and wig design by Charles Lapointe, dialect coaching by Deborah Hecht, fight direction by Rick Sordelet, aerial design by Paul Rubin, make-up by Cookie Jordan and additional costumes by Jeff Mahshie.  Production Stage Manager is Monica Cuoco and Stage Manager is Joshua Pilote.

The production of ANGELS IN AMERICA is made possible by a major grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Signature Theatre Company’s 20th Anniversary season celebrating Tony Kushner also features the New York premiere of iHo: THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL’S GUIDE TO CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM WITH A KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES, also directed by Michael Greif and co-produced with The Public Theater in association with the Guthrie Theater; and THE ILLUSION, Kushner’s freely adapted version of Pierre Corneille’s L’Illusion Comique, directed by Tony Award-winner Michael Mayer.

The season will also include readings of selected other plays from Tony Kushner’s body of work. Plays under consideration include A BRIGHT ROOM CALLED DAY, TINY KUSHNER (A NEW COLLECTION OF ONE ACTS), IT’S AN UNDOING WORLD, OR WHY SHOULD IT BE EASY WHEN IT CAN BE HARD?, THE HENRY BOX BROWN PLAYHYDRIOTAPHIA, OR THE DEATH OF DR. BROWNE and HOMEBODY/KABUL.

Signature Theatre Company, founded in 1991 by James Houghton, exists to honor and celebrate the playwright. Signature makes an extended commitment to a playwright’s body of work and during this journey, the writer is engaged in every aspect of the creative process. Signature is the first theatre company to devote an entire season to the work of a single playwright, including re-examinations of past writings as well as New York and world premieres. By championing in-depth explorations of a living playwright’s body of work, the Company delivers an intimate and immersive journey into the playwright’s singular vision.

Signature remains deeply committed to season-long residencies and during the company’s tenth and fifteenth anniversaries, Signature introduced the Legacy Program. The Legacy Program invites past Playwrights-in-Residence back to Signature through two series: the Signature Series, which presents “signature,” or more well-known works; and the Premiere Series, which presents New York and world premieres. Since 2005, Signature has been committed to presenting world-class theatre at an affordable price through The Signature Ticket Initiative, which will offer subsidized $20 tickets through the Company’s twentieth anniversary season in 2011.

In October of 2008, Signature announced the creation of the SIGNATURE CENTER, a permanent home to open in late 2011. Designed by Frank Gehry Architects, the Center will comprise three theatres, two rehearsal studios, a café, bookstore, and offices all on one level – a configuration that allows the company not only the space to expand its programming, but also the proximity for natural interaction between artists and audiences of the different programs. In its new home, Signature will continue its Master Playwrights Residency and expand the Legacy Program. Signature will also introduce an Emerging Playwrights Residency that will feature early- and mid-career playwrights and guarantee them three full productions over the course of a four-year residency. This groundbreaking facility will offer a vital presence on West 42nd Street and will make it possible for Signature to collaborate with playwrights throughout the entire trajectory of their careers. For more information please visit signaturecenter.org.

TICKETS

Tickets for performances through December 19, 2010 are available for $20 through The Signature Ticket Initiative, which seeks to make great theatre accessible to the broadest possible audience. All regularly-priced single tickets ($85) are underwritten and will be available for $20 for every performance at The Peter Norton Space for the entire season, during a show’s initial run.

The Signature Ticket Initiative is made possible by the lead sponsorship of Time Warner Inc.  Generous support for The Signature Ticket Initiative is provided by Margot Adams, in memory of Mason Adams.

Tickets for all performances beginning December 21, 2010 are $85. For the full performance calendar, to purchase tickets or for more information, please visit http://signaturetheatre.org/angels or call (212) 244-PLAY (7529).

ANGELS IN AMERICA plays:

Tuesday-Friday at 7:30 PM

Saturday at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM

Sunday at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM

Please visit http://www.signaturetheatre.org/angels for the full performance calendar.

ANGELS IN AMERICA plays at The Peter Norton Space located at 555 West 42nd Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues).  For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.signaturetheatre.org or call (212) 244-PLAY (7529).

 

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