October 24, 2018

Theatre UAB presents “Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches”

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theatre angels america 13aTheatre UAB's "Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches”Theatre UAB will present Tony Kushner’s celebrated epic, “Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches,” from Nov. 7-10 and Nov. 14-17, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

Theatre UAB is the performance company of the College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Theatre

Separate but connected New Yorkers grapple with sexuality, politics and religion during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. The play examines the emerging AIDS epidemic and how the disease confronted and changed the gay community during the last years of the 20th century in America.  Compassionate, spiritual, often witty and completely captivating, Kushner’s words question the politics, economics and spirituality of the times. The production is directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre Jack Cannon, MFA, and senior theater major Hayley Procacci. 

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. nightly Nov. 7-10 and Nov. 14-16 and 2 p.m. Nov. 17 in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, Odess Theatre. This play contains strong sexual content and adult language. Admission is $15; student tickets are $6. Tickets for UAB employees and senior citizens are $10. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or go to www.AlysStephens.org. Visit Theatre UAB online at www.uab.edu/cas/theatre

The majority of the play’s principal characters are trapped in the throes of self-denial and doubt.  These stories of three individual characters become entwined as the play moves forward, challenging each character’s sense of self-worth and spiritual devotion, Cannon says. 

“Stitched into these character’s lives are divine and ghostly characters that warn and herald a coming of a new order, a new spirituality, a new millennium,” Cannon said. “‘Angels in America’ captures the whirlwind of changes confronted by a country in crisis and a people longing to be truly free.” 

"Kushner leads us to the conviction that we must find community and peace in the midst of uncertainty and adversity," Procacci said.

Eight primary actors portray 20 different characters, including women portraying male roles, actors playing ghosts, as well as characters of the “godly” realm. Theatre UAB’s production adds three other performers, known as shadows, that help bridge the play’s shifting scenes between reality and fantasy. J. Marc Quattlebaum’s scenic design is an abstract environment based on the Brutalist architecture movement, a metaphorical memorialized meeting place, which honors the previous American century. The 26 different scenes and locations of the play all take place in this one shared location. The design allows the pacing of the play to remain quick, innovative and ever-changing. 

Strong student involvement as part of the production team makes this Theatre UAB production unique, Cannon says. Sophomore Olivia Bowles designs the production’s costumes from styles of the American 1980s as well as the divine and ghostly apparel of the play’s more spiritual characters. Tanier Dutton, a senior double-majoring in English as well as theater, is the dramaturge for the play, researching the politics, economics and various religions represented in “Angels in America.” Dutton writes: 

“Theatre UAB’s production … has an emotional connection to the play. Even though it takes place in New York, the Southern United States is the new epicenter for HIV/AIDS. Nearly half of all new AIDS diagnoses occur in the South. Birmingham is also ranked 17 on the highest rates list of HIV infection in cities. However, there is a silver lining. Birmingham is home to UAB’s Center for AIDS Research and the 1917 Clinic — both being world-renowned centers in the research and treatment of AIDS, and host internationally renowned experts in HIV/AIDS as well. So when the company is telling this story, they are not only telling the stories of these brave men and women in New York, but also of the men and women of Birmingham — our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. Theatre UAB is humbled to be able to follow in the footsteps of the 1917 Clinic and the UAB Center for AIDS Research not only as we raise awareness for HIV/AIDS, but as we show it.” 

The cast is Victoria Cruz of Birmingham; Maggie Moore of Madison; Jackson Perry of Hoover; Devin Franklin of Birmingham; Lew Williams of Scottsboro; David Parker of Birmingham; Chance Novalis of Madison; Laurel Floen of Apollo Beach, Georgia; Brett Everingham of Atlanta, Georgia; Raiya Goodman of Houston, Texas; and Antonio Mitchell of Phenix City. The play’s stage management is by Spencer Webb of Madison; Rachel-Marie Strazza of New York, New York; and Clara Holmes of Grand Blanc, Michigan. 

UAB Department of Theatre faculty for the production includes Marlene Johnson, vocal and dialect coach; Kelly Allison, lighting designer; Amy Page, costume director; and Ed Zuckerman, production manager and technical director. Theatre staff for the production includes Quattlebaum, scenic designer and properties master; Sharon Morgan, costume shop supervisor; Sean Doyle, stage electrics director; and David Page, assistant technical director.