Stephen Spinella in Angels in America

somethingbypuccini 2
Stand-by
joined:5/12/13
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 08:44pm
Can anyone who saw Stephen Spinella in Angels in America comment on his performance? I've always been curious.
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 08:50pm
There wasn't a single gay cliche that he didn't employ.

The best acting in this show came from Marcia Gay Harden, Kathleen Chalfant and Ron Leibman.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
bobs3
Broadway Legend
joined:4/8/12
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 09:34pm
^^Agree. He really femmed-up the role. I preferred Justin Kirk in the HBO series.

Ron Leibman, Marcia Gay Harden and Jeffrey Wright were excellent. David Marshall Grant -- you could actually believe he was the Marlboro Man.
Jane2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/13/04
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 09:38pm
Jeffrey Wright- more than perfection. And then again in the film. So glad he reprised the role of Belize for HBO.
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Phyllis Rogers Stone
Broadway Legend
joined:9/16/07
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 09:40pm
I never think of Prior as a role that can be played too femme.

Updated On: 3/11/14 at 09:40 PM
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 10:23pm
Marcia Gay Harden was heartbreaking when she did the monologue about the dying souls joining together to patch the hole in the ozone layer. I wish she had done the HBO movie rather than that freaked out nutter that they cast.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 10:30pm
After seeing Spinella in Millennium twice and Perestroika once, I can't believe anybody else who saw him would prefer that (awful in my opinion) Justin Kirk. He was so smirky and unlikeable.

Spinella was great. Is there anything specific you would like to know?
Can anyone tell me how the line has been?
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 10:30pm
I think when Daniel Jenkins took over, he gave a better performance. He didn't use the Cindy Brady lisp that Spinella used.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
somethingbypuccini 2
Stand-by
joined:5/12/13
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 10:43pm
I hated Justin Kirk in the HBO series. He didn't bring any of the "gay-ness" to the role. There just seemed to be so much missing from his performances. All of the camp, all of the glamour, all of the vulnerability was gone.

I'm just curious about his performance in general. What people though worked, what didn't.
Jane2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/13/04
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 10:47pm
I'll tell you who was a great Prior - Michael Urie in the Signaure version.

I for one had no problems with Kirk's Prior. In fact, that HBO film ranks as one of the best films I've ever seen, and the casting was brilliant.
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Updated On: 3/10/14 at 10:47 PM
somethingbypuccini 2
Stand-by
joined:5/12/13
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 10:54pm
I really do love the HBO series, and Kirk's Prior does have some really nice moments. But I think he is one of the weakest in the cast, second only to Parker, which is a problem for Angels in America.

I would have loved to see Urie.
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 11:01pm
Urie? Did you see Christian Borle? Because he is the only one who came close to what Spinella was able to do with the role, and believe me, I've seen many.
Can anyone tell me how the line has been?
Jane2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/13/04
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 11:11pm
No,but I would have loved to. I like Borle.
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Steve721
Stand-by
joined:2/21/14
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 11:12pm
Spinella will always be Prior Walter to me, and I believe his performance was very faithful to the character Kushner wrote. Given the lines Kushner wrote for him ( for example, "Oh nursey dear, fetch the medication, I'm starting to rave"), Prior is supposed to be flamboyant and over-the-top.

Spinella was very funny, but at the same time bitter and furious about what was happening to him, and he came across as very spontaneous, natural and genuine in the role. (He was so thin, I feared for his health, but Spinella said at the time that he was just naturally very skinny.) By comparison, while I still liked Justin Kirk in the film, I thought his work came across as more studied--an actor performing a role.

In my 30-plus years of seeing Broadway plays, the production of Angels is probably my favorite show ever. I thought the original cast was terrific, and I loved every one of them.
Jane2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/13/04
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 11:17pm

oh, right! now I remember- Spinella was so very very thin and frail that it was hard to believe he was healthy~
<-----craves juicy pizza
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 11:31pm
I remember them having to do an article about that in the Times.
Can anyone tell me how the line has been?
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/10/14 at 11:39pm
In his Paris Review interview, Kushner has great things to say about Sean Chapman as Prior in the earlier National Theatre UK production (I've always been curious about some of that cast--Marcus D'Amico, who was Mouse in the first Tales of the City, played Louis which seems odd casting to me, but I don't know any of his other work.) Of course when they then did Part II they used an entirely different cast (with Daniel Craig as Joe.)
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/11/14 at 09:59am
"Prior is supposed to be flamboyant and over-the-top."

But that's all he did for six hours. He never found any other levels. Jeffrey Wright did excellent work finding different levels for his character, adding flaboyance when it suited the character. Spinella's character was a bad Carol Channing imitation.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/11/14 at 10:10am
"(I've always been curious about some of that cast--Marcus D'Amico, who was Mouse in the first Tales of the City, played Louis which seems odd casting to me, but I don't know any of his other work.)"

In the Judi Dench tv series "As Time Goes By" Jean and Lionel go to Hollywood to sell their story as an American miniseries. They meet with a Hollywood producer named Cy Liberman. The producer is played by Marcus D'Amico and I think it is probably close to how he played Louis.
Start Around 5:47 Mark
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
Steve721
Stand-by
joined:2/21/14
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/11/14 at 12:06pm
"But that's all he did for six hours. He never found any other levels. Jeffrey Wright did excellent work finding different levels for his character, adding flaboyance when it suited the character. Spinella's character was a bad Carol Channing imitation."

This is one those circumstances where I wonder if we're even talking about the same performance.

For one thing, I don't think Carol Channing does rage. Spinella, on the other hand, made palpable Prior's fury over his situation. Yes, he played all of the bitchy drag-queen humor to the hilt, but there was a lot more to the performance than just nelly mannerisms. Kathleen Chalfant is no slouch as an actress, and she would have blown a mere "Carol Channing imitator" off the stage, but the scenes between her Hannah and Spinella's Prior were superbly played by both actors and completely convincing.

Spinella won Tonys for both Parts 1 and 2 (as well as many other awards), and I for one thought they were richly deserved. Prior Walter is in many ways the heart and conscience of Angels (as well as a counterpoint to Roy Cohn), and the play would have been greatly diminished with an incompetent actor in that role. As it was, IMHO Spinella's fine work lifted the play and made it even better.
Reginald Tresilian
Broadway Legend
joined:6/12/08
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/11/14 at 01:00pm
I thought he was brilliant in both parts. He literally stopped the show with the line "Well, it'd be your lucky day if I was."

BTW, we went out with him and a mutual friend after one of the shows and you should have seen him demolish a burger and fries. So yeah, he was just naturally skinny. Still is.

Updated On: 3/11/14 at 01:00 PM
Skip2
Stand-by
joined:12/17/04
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/11/14 at 01:32pm
Urie was great in the role. Borle, Spinella and Kirk...not so much.

And I loved Parker. And, of course, Wright. Hadary was the best Cohn.

east side story
Leading Actor
joined:4/21/11
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/11/14 at 01:36pm
I thought Mary-Louise Parker was perfection in the HBO film. A richly deserved Emmy.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/11/14 at 05:13pm
Gotham, thanks for that link! Interesting.

I like Kirk fine in the film. I agree that, while I haven't see his performance, it does seem odd to complain about Spinella playing the character as, I gather, "too queeny" since the text completely supports that.
bobs3
Broadway Legend
joined:4/8/12
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/11/14 at 05:21pm
I am paraphrasing because I don't remember the exact lines but it was something like:

Harper: What do you see? WHAT DO YOU SEE????

Joe: NOTHING!!!

The look on Marcia Gay Harden's face was a combination of devastation and relief. It was a chilling theatrical moment.
Jane2
Broadway Legend
joined:2/13/04
Stephen Spinella in Angels in America
Posted: 3/11/14 at 06:18pm
For me, Justin Kirk was the antithesis of queeny as Prior, yet I thought he was great. The role can be played in different ways.
<-----craves juicy pizza

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