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Open Stage to Stream Online Performance of ANGELS IN AMERICA

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Open Stage to Stream Online Performance of ANGELS IN AMERICA

Open Stage, a regional theatre in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, will be hosting a live-stream presentation of their upcoming production of Angels in America.

Like many theatres across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the shutdown of Open Stage's live theatrical programming, including the 21st anniversary production of The Diary of Anne Frank. The show had booked 3000 students from the surrounding area to see the annual event over the course of four days, and the cast was in it's second-to-last dress rehearsal when the decision was made to shutter the theatre and postpone the show indefinitely.

Classes, shows, and fundraisers are also postponed until further notice, and the administrators of Open Stage are looking at a possible $194,000 loss to the theatre's annual budget.

One of the most disheartening events to be postponed was the upcoming production of Angels in America, Tony Kushner's epic two-part play about the AIDS epidemic, set to play May 9-June 28, 2020. The show was first produced in Pennsylvania by Open Stage in 1996, when the show was fresh off its initial lauded Broadway run. While the production team hopes to mount the show later in the year when it is safe to do so, the cast of the show has been steadfastly gathering virtually to rehearse, discuss the text, and go through lines of the almost 8-hour show.

Inspired by the overwhelming commitment of the artists and the theatre's mission to support the artistic community, Producing Artistic Director Stuart Landon has opted to produce a live streaming presentation of Angels in America.

Landon, who is also directing this production, knows that Open Stage (and the entire theatrical community) will be facing some tough challenges. "Our world has seen some immense changes over the past few weeks. And it is a very tenuous time for arts organizations across the country. We are an entity that relies on the gathering of people, and of course we are living in a time when that is unsafe to do so.

Angels has been in rehearsal for two months, and the show overall has been in production for more than a year. Throughout that year, Prior Walter's mantra that ends the show has been our rallying cry: 'The Great Works Begins.' Tony Kushner was of course speaking directly to what the characters were going through; what the gay community was facing in a time of crisis in the late 80's and early 90's. But the beauty of art is that it always speaks to what our world is facing now, and in every moment after those words were first born on the page. Telling this inspiring, heartbreaking and transformative story is our artistic duty, and like Prior we found ourselves bound to that mission. We were set to perform a show about America living through a medical, spiritual, and political crisis, and while there are many parallels you cannot and should not draw to compare these two moments in history, we know that sharing this story is pertinent, timely and important; our community and the world at large needs to experience it. "

After getting permission from licensing house Broadway Play Publishing, Open Stage is preparing to present the show via the Zoom app. For any size donation, people around the world can watch the actors connect in a new and powerful way, challenged by distance and location. Once the link is set up, anyone who made a contribution from March onwards will receive a password protected link to watch a live stream of the show, or watch the show in parts through May 15. The show will be presented twice and in six parts, unabridged. Anyone who donates will get a link and code to watch the show and get access to all six parts of this unique presentation.

"What's really exciting is that people will get to see the theatrical process in action," says Landon. "Like a rehearsal, there will be no real set, costumes, and minimal props to speak of. There will of course be no special effects, either. This is about text and characterization. It is, like most plays, about human connection, and we are dedicated to that connection even if our artists aren't in the same room. And this is an incredible group of actors - the magic they create and the energy between them is palpable, even through a computer screen. To help the audience follow along, there will be a stage manager reading the stage directions out loud, very similar to what an initial readthrough would be like. I don't have a word for what it is - we've never done this before and perhaps the word for this kind of production doesn't exist quite yet. It's definitely 21st Century Theatre."

Angels in America, usually an eight hour show presented in two parts, will be split up and presented live with the schedule as follows:

Friday, April 17, 2020: Angels in America Part I: Millennium Approaches, Act I @ 7:00pm

Saturday, April 18, 2020: Angels in America Part I: Millennium Approaches, Act II @ 7:00pm

Sunday, April 19, 2020: Angels in America Part I: Millennium Approaches, Act III @ 7:00pm

Friday, April 24, 2020: Angels in America Part 2: Perestroika, Act I-III @ 7:00pm

Saturday, April 25, 2020: Angels in America Part 2: Perestroika, Act IV @ 7:00pm

Sunday, April 26, 2020: Angels in America Part 2: Perestroika, Act V @ 7:00pm

Friday, May 1, 2020: Angels in America Part I: Millennium Approaches, Act I @ 7:00pm

Saturday May 2, 2020: Angels in America Part I: Millennium Approaches, Act II @ 7:00pm

Sunday May 3, 2020: Sunday, April 19, 2020: Angels in America Part I: Millennium Approaches, Act III @ 7:00pm

Friday May 8, 2020: Angels in America Part 2: Perestroika, Act I-III @ 7:00pm

Saturday May 9, 2020: Angels in America Part 2: Perestroika, Act IV @ 7:00pm

Sunday May 10, 2020: Angels in America Part 2: Perestroika, Act V @ 7:00pm

The opening show on April 17 and several shows throughout the series will be accompanied by a post-show discussion hosted by Open Stage, entitled "Conversations with Angels." Following the live-stream on April 17th, there will be a post-show discussion with the cast as well as Frank Pizzoli, Editor and Publisher of The Central Voice, a Central PA focused LGBTQ Publication. More post-show presentations will be added - that schedule is forthcoming.

For information on how to donate and information on live-streaming, visit openstagehbg.com. For those looking for larger bookings.


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