Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Angels in America - An Emotional and Challenging Revival

Sofia Jean Gomez and Michael Urie
Photo by Joan Marcusk
I didn't have the privilege of seeing Tony Kushner's Angels in America when it was first produced on Broadway.  Friends had gushed about the production telling me how tragic it was that I didn't have the opportunity to come to NYC and drink in the poetry and majesty of it all.  It wasn't until years later when HBO produced the film version that I became familiar with the story of Prior, Louis, Belize and the Pitts.

But I instantly loved it.  It wasn't an easy love.  The story is hard, emotionally.  I find myself wanting to squeeze Prior and tell him its OK.  To warn him that Louis is going to hurt him.  To keep him safe and help him through his sickness.  But also to not watch as the pain unravels and the ache of loneliness overwhelms him... and the others in the story.  To say that I'm thankful that I haven't lived through that torment is an understatement.  I can't imagine how I would handle it, much less survive, even after knowing very dear friends who have lived through the fear and agony.

And then, last night, I got to meet the story in person.

The Signature Theatre is currently running the fourth extension on their production.  This intimate 160-seat theater sets each audience member no further than 30 feet from the stage.  You might as well be in Prior's bedroom, watching silently as the drama unfolds... and you'd be thankful for the opportunity.

It is incredibly hard to express exactly how I feel about the show.  I'm not sure why.  This is true of the show on the whole as well as for the characters... in particular Prior.  Michael Urie (Ugly Betty, The Temperamentals) is an epic Prior... both funny and sad, hopeful and hopeless, dreaming and awake and I suppose this is what makes expressing my feelings for him so difficult.  The character is a paradox in form and feeling and I feel as juxtaposed about him as he seems to feel but at the same time ache deeply for him to get better, to find love, to find peace.  The others are equally as stunning, particularly Billy Porter who is a generous and caring Belize.  He's exactly the person you want fighting for you when you are desperately in need.

I find myself lost for words in describing the effect that this production had on me.  I want to talk about it, have a dialog, work through issues... and yet I can't find my voice.  At the risk of running on and rambling nonsensically I'll simply suggest you go see it before it ends on April 24th.  Then let's talk... face to face.

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