‘Angels in America’ Is Returning to Broadway With Nathan Lane

September 9, 2017

The New York Times

By MICHAEL PAULSON
SEPTEMBER 7, 2017 

 

“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.” 

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