Theater Review | "Angels in America" Lands in Pittsburgh

Throughline Theater's clever and awakening adaptation of Tony Kushner's two part masterpiece, "Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes," is a refreshing emphasis on political, personal and spiritual issues that seem to dwell in most of us.  Set in mid-1980's New York City, during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, "Angels" is a raw and moving story that focuses on a collection of characters bound together by fate, imagination and moral choice. Each one suffering through their own crisis which creates a rippling effect of experiences and encounters with one another.

Henry (Joe Michnya) and Roy Cohn (Mark Yochum) discuss Roy's "condition" 
The characters are complied of: a young gay couple, Louis (Ben Edelman) and Prior (Nick Browne) dealing with the effects of AIDS and relationship abandonment, a Mormon couple, Joe Pitt (Tom Kolos) who is dealing with a very private identity crisis and his pill addicted oblivious wife Harper (Elizabeth Chappel) who hallucinates beautiful and vivid scenarios, the wise-talking big shot lawyer Roy Cohn (Mike Yochum) who is taken down a couple notches by his own ill fate, the fabulous and dynamic Belize (Monteze Freeland) who is a friend of Louis and Pryor's and also a nurse, and of course the groundbreaking angel who bursts into the scene with all her glory and might.

Harper Pitt (Elizabeth Chappel) and Joe Pitt (Tom Kolos) having a moment
The show is split into two parts: Millenium Approaches and Perestroika.  I had the pleasure of seeing Millennium Approaches last Friday at the Grey Box Theater in Lawrenceville. The power of the show was amplified by the simple yet very intimate set up of the stage.  Sheets and dangling light bulbs are all that was needed to create an ethereal and mystical setting, where the stage is floor level and so are the seats;  so you are literally on the same level as the characters in the show.

Belize (Monteze Freeland) pays a visit to a sick Prior (Nick Browne)
There are moments where you are cracking up from it's dry humor, moments where you feel scared and empathetic towards the characters, moments of purposeful confusion, and moments of deep sadness. There is a little bit of everything in this show - even spoken Hebrew!   Part 1: Millennium Approaches ends on a cliff hanging note, leaving you yearning for an ending, an explanation or some kind of closure, making it necessary to see Perestroika.

Louis (Ben Edelman) and Prior (Nick Browne) 
 Angels in America: Perestroika will open today (6/12) at 8 PM and have two additional performances: Friday, 6/13 at 8 PM and showing both parts on Saturday, 6/14 at 8 PM followed by Throughline's 5 year anniversary party at Del's Bar & Ristorante in Bloomfield between both parts.

 Tickets for the full-day event are $50, but tickets to only one show (either one) and the celebration can be purchased for $35.  Tickets for any regular performance of the show are $15, or $12 for students with valid ID and seniors. 

To find out more about Throughline Theater visit their website: www.throughlinetheatre.org

* please be advised - there is foul language and brief nudity in the show - so leave the kids at home*

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