Cast Announced for Great American Epic Angels in America
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announced the cast and creative team of its upcoming production of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, which will run March 24 - April 23, 2023, in the iconic in-the-round Fichandler Stage. Written by one of the country's most celebrated playwrights, Tony Kushner, and directed by internationally acclaimed Hungarian-American film and theater director Janos Szasz, Arena Stage's production will reimagine this great American epic through innovative in-the-round staging, making it a "must-see" theater event. Press Night will be held on Thursday, March 30 at 7:00 p.m. For information and tickets, please visit arenastage.org/angels.
Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, won both the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and four 1993 Tony Awards, including Best Play (it was nominated for nine Tony Awards). The gripping story follows how the lives of six New Yorkers intersect at a time when society and politics are rapidly changing, including a gay man abandoned by his lover when he contracts HIV, and a closeted Mormon lawyer's stalling marriage to his pill-popping wife. This spring marks the 30th anniversary of its Broadway premiere.
"Janos Szasz is a superbly talented Hungarian director in both theater and film," said Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. "He brings a unique vision to each project. His film director's eye enhances his ability to create a wild and unbridled world on stage visually, as well as draws deep relationships from the actors. We met on an international exchange through Philip Arnoult and the Center for International Theatre Development many years ago and was knocked out by his work. I immediately invited him to Arena to direct A Streetcar Named Desire in 2001. I always love it when someone from another part of the world directs an American classic."
"I have always worked with classic material," shared Szasz. "Angels in America is, for me, a classic. It is classical in a way that the most modern dramas are. For me this play is very poetic. A story of loyalty vs. abandonment, suffering and pleasure, fear of death and sensuality. And a celebration of love! Yes, sometimes hopeless, but beautifully funny."
In addition to staging Tennessee Williams' landmark work-also in Arena's in-the-round Fichandler Stage-Szasz has an extensive history directing bold adaptations of classics, such as his groundbreaking productions of Mother Courage and Her Children, Uncle Vanya, The Seagull, and more at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"It has been 22 years since I was at Arena with Streetcar," reflected Szasz. "I was honored when Molly invited me back after so many years to stage Angels in America. I can hardly find the words to express my appreciation. My family left our country. But I am finding a new home here. I am finding a new stage. I am grateful forever."
Angels in America's prominent themes-including antisemitism, prejudice, and creating one's own community-have particular resonance for Szasz. "Janos has directed plays throughout Hungary, Norway, and the United States, and has a big film career in Europe," said Smith. "Sadly, the rise in antisemitism in Europe put him and his family at risk. Their home was raided, and their lives threatened. My partner Suzanne and a member of our Board along with staff worked with Janos to help him and his family come to the U.S. I am so pleased that he is here at Arena. It would have been heartbreaking to lose his artistry."
"It doesn't look like a 30-year-old drama. It's contemporary. It's timeless," explained Szasz, drawing comparisons between AIDS and COVID-19. "We just experienced our own epidemic. We faced a crisis wondering if we are going to die, if our children are going to die. I want this production to speak to today, reflecting the reality of relationships today, politics today."
"Angels in America is an epic play. And it is being staged by an epic director," Smith summarized. "This is going to be combustible."
In addition to its fully staged production of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, Arena Stage will also host a one-night-only reading of Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika, on Monday, April 17, at 7:00 p.m. in its Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, that will be free and open to the public. More information, including how to RSVP, will be shared at a later date.
Returning to Arena Stage are cast members John Austin (Holiday), Frank Britton (Orpheus Descending), Edward Gero (The Originalist), Susan Rome (Indecent), and Justin Weaks (The 51st State).
Making their Arena Stage debuts with Angels in America are cast members Michael Kevin Darnall (Studio Theatre's The Hot Wing King), Veronica del Cerro (Ford's Theatre's Trip to Bountiful), Brandon Haagenson (Shakespeare Theatre's Our Town), Billie Krishawn (Mosaic Theater's The Till Trilogy), Nick Westrate (Broadway's Casa Valentina), and Deborah Ann Woll (HBO's True Blood).
In addition to director Janos Szasz, the creative team includes Set Designer Maruti Evans, Costume Designer Oana Botez, Lighting Designer Christopher Akerlind, Original Music and Sound Designer Fabian Obispo, Wig and Makeup Designer The Wig Associates, Dramaturg Otis Ramsey-Zoe, Casting Director Joseph Pinzon, New York Casting JZ Casting/Geoff Josselson, C.S.A. and Katja Zarolinski, C.S.A., Stage Manager Chris De Camillis, and Assistant Stage Managers Dayne Sundman and Leigh Robinette.