Tony Kushner's Powerful "Angels in America" Produced by MSU Theatre & Dance

Nov 11, 2016

Tony Kushner's powerful drama about the AIDS crisis of the mid-1980s, "Angels in America," is performed this weekend in Craig Hall Coger Theatre.
Credit (Poster design courtesy Missouri State University Theatre and Dance)

The Missouri State University Theatre and Dance Department presents Tony Kushner's controversial-- and critically acclaimed--Angels in America, Part 1: The Millennium Approaches, directed by Sarah Wiggin, in Craig Hall Coger Theatre for tonight and Saturday Nov.11-12 at 7:30pm and Sunday Nov.13 at 2:30pm.  It's 1985, and both the "Reagan revolution" and the AIDS epidemic are well underway. In New York City, the relationships of two couples are unraveling. Prior discovers that he has AIDS. Louis, his partner, soon abandons him and takes up with Joe, whose wife Harper has retreated to a Valium-induced, hallucinogenic state. Both the couples' personal bonds and the society in which they live are fractured by greed, selfishness, prejudice, cowardice and lies.  Another character is Joe's boss Roy Cohn--yes, a fictionalized version of the Roy Cohn, chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.  (Cohn himself was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984 and died in 1986. This is the role played by Al Pacino in the HBO miniseries based on the Kushner's play.)

Colton Williams plays Louis, who he says is emblematic of "the problems that couples faced after the effects of the AIDS crisis.  He's left to deal with, 'does he stay with  his partner? Does he leave his partner with this sickness?' Because it's a life sentence."

Then, in the midst of his illness and despair, Prior is visited by a supernatural messenger--an angel--and receives a revelation that might yet redeem humankind.  Michael Watterson, who plays Joe, notes that this provides a "spiritual or supernatural aspect" to the play.  He is also quick to mention that while "there's a lot of heavy content, there are definitely moments of laughter in Angels in America."

The MSU Theatre and Dance production is sponsored by the LGBTQ Assocation and Ozarks Lesbian and Gay Archives (OLGA) located in the Missouri State Library.  The play contains mature language and content.

Michael and Colton told us the play has been in rehearsal for about six weeks, and both were previously familiar with the script--"it comes up in our coursework a lot," says Colton.  They both call the play "mentally taxing.  We were just talking before we came in here about how, after the show we just want to sleep!" But neither is complaining: "It's a great challenge," they agree.

Tickets for Angels in America are $14 Adults; $12 Students/Seniors; $8 in advance with MSU ID.  For information call the MSU box office at 836-7678 or visit www.missouristatetix.com.  You're invited to join the conversation on Twitter at #MSUAngelsinAmerica.