BWW Feature: Utah Rep Producing ANGELS IN AMERICA in Utah a Unique Experience, for Both Actors and Audiences--With Mormon Church Dominating State's Culture and Politics
Continuing its mission to stage rarely produced classics (with regional premieres), Utah Repertory Theater Company has selected the Pulitzer Prize- and multiple Tony Award-winning ANGELS IN AMERICA in its seventh season.
Utah Rep Artistic Director JayC Stoddard directs Part 1: "Millennium Approaches" at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center May 30-June 9, with the Part 2: "Perestroika" to be produced next year by the same cast and creative team. The epic work, which demands to be revisited again and again, spans the Reagan-Bush eras and spirals around the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York, weaving the lives of fictional and historical characters into a feverish web of social, political and sexual revelations.
With the Mormon Church dominating culture and politics in Utah, it's a unique experience for actors to be performing ANGELS IN AMERICA in Utah, home to characters in playwright Tony Kushner's groundbreaking masterpiece.
According to Stoddard: "The AIDS crisis is one subject among many in ANGELS, but it's so much more than that. Racism. Abandonment. What happens when your religion and your repression collide and how that affects the people closest to us. How to be our best selves in a world designed to crush us. These are just a very few ideas presented to us in this work: Ideas that will never stop being relevant."
Lucas Stewart (Joe): "What excites me most about participating in ANGELS is being able to tell a story that is still applicable to today's problems -- and in a place where these problems are looked past. We have the opportunity to share a story that, sadly, resonates with too many people in this state. (Performing in ANGELS) is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially in Utah where this play won't be seen a whole lot.
"I hope audiences will take a step back and look at the people struggling in their life and to open their eyes to new experiences and other cultures. Mormons have a culture the same way LGBT+ people have a culture. We all have different life experiences but we all share the same world."
Liz Whittaker (Hannah/Rabbi): "There are still young Mormon men like Joe Pitt who ache for things they don't think they can have. There are still people whose humanity we ignore when they develop AIDS. And there are still men like Roy Cohn in positions of power. Good art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed, and this production does plenty of both."
Joshua Tewell (Louis): "It's particularly fitting to be doing ANGELS in Utah, with its major Mormon influence. It's important, I think, to inspect one's culture and upbringing, and ANGELS does a good job, to me, of analyzing Utah culture through a nonjudgmental, yet still critical, lens. I would hope that audiences will find the humor and truth in the 'delectable' analysis of their home."
Concluding the 2019 season will be the regional premiere production of AMERICAN PSYCHO, with a scorchingly satirical book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and a heart-and-head-pounding score by Duncan Sheik. The musical is based on the controversial 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis.