Cast Announced For ANGELS IN AMERICA at Arena Stage

Performances will run March 24 – April 23, 2023, in the iconic in-the-round Fichandler Stage.

By: Feb. 15, 2023
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Cast Announced For ANGELS IN AMERICA at Arena Stage

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announced the cast and creative team of its upcoming production of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, which will run March 24 - April 23, 2023, in the iconic in-the-round Fichandler Stage. Written by one of the country's most celebrated playwrights, Tony Kushner, and directed by internationally acclaimed Hungarian-American film and theater director János Szász, Arena Stage's production will reimagine this great American epic through innovative in-the-round staging, making it a "must-see" theater event. Press Night will be held on Thursday, March 30 at 7:00 p.m. For information and tickets, please visit

Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, won both the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and four 1993 Tony Awards, including Best Play (it was nominated for nine Tony Awards). The gripping story follows how the lives of six New Yorkers intersect at a time when society and politics are rapidly changing, including a gay man abandoned by his lover when he contracts HIV, and a closeted Mormon lawyer's stalling marriage to his pill-popping wife. This spring marks the 30th anniversary of its Broadway premiere.

"János Szász is a superbly talented Hungarian director in both theater and film," said Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. "He brings a unique vision to each project. His film director's eye enhances his ability to create a wild and unbridled world on stage visually, as well as draws deep relationships from the actors. We met on an international exchange through Philip Arnoult and the Center for International Theatre Development many years ago and was knocked out by his work. I immediately invited him to Arena to direct A Streetcar Named Desire in 2001. I always love it when someone from another part of the world directs an American classic."

"I have always worked with classic material," shared Szász. "Angels in America is, for me, a classic. It is classical in a way that the most modern dramas are. For me this play is very poetic. A story of loyalty vs. abandonment, suffering and pleasure, fear of death and sensuality. And a celebration of love! Yes, sometimes hopeless, but beautifully funny."

In addition to staging Tennessee Williams' landmark work-also in Arena's in-the-round Fichandler Stage-Szász has an extensive history directing bold adaptations of classics, such as his groundbreaking productions of Mother Courage and Her Children, Uncle Vanya, The Seagull, and more at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"It has been 22 years since I was at Arena with Streetcar," reflected Szász. "I was honored when Molly invited me back after so many years to stage Angels in America. I can hardly find the words to express my appreciation. My family left our country. But I am finding a new home here. I am finding a new stage. I am grateful forever."

Angels in America's prominent themes-including antisemitism, prejudice, and creating one's own community-have particular resonance for Szász. "János has directed plays throughout Hungary, Norway, and the United States, and has a big film career in Europe," said Smith. "Sadly, the rise in antisemitism in Europe put him and his family at risk. Their home was raided, and their lives threatened. My partner Suzanne and a member of our Board along with staff worked with János to help him and his family come to the U.S. I am so pleased that he is here at Arena. It would have been heartbreaking to lose his artistry."

"It doesn't look like a 30-year-old drama. It's contemporary. It's timeless," explained Szász, drawing comparisons between AIDS and COVID-19. "We just experienced our own epidemic. We faced a crisis wondering if we are going to die, if our children are going to die. I want this production to speak to today, reflecting the reality of relationships today, politics today."

"Angels in America is an epic play. And it is being staged by an epic director," Smith summarized. "This is going to be combustible."

In addition to its fully staged production of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, Arena Stage will also host a one-night-only reading of Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika, on Monday, April 17, at 7:00 p.m. in its Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, that will be free and open to the public. More information, including how to RSVP, will be shared at a later date.

Returning to Arena Stage are cast members John Austin (Holiday), Frank Britton (Orpheus Descending), Edward Gero (The Originalist), Susan Rome (Indecent), and Justin Weaks (The 51st State).

Making their Arena Stage debuts with Angels in America are cast members Michael Kevin Darnall (Studio Theatre's The Hot Wing King), Veronica del Cerro (Ford's Theatre's Trip to Bountiful), Brandon Haagenson (Shakespeare Theatre's Our Town), Billie Krishawn (Mosaic Theater's The Till Trilogy), Nick Westrate (Broadway's Casa Valentina), and Deborah Ann Woll (HBO's True Blood).

In addition to director János Szász, the creative team includes Set Designer Maruti Evans, Costume Designer Oana Botez, Lighting Designer Christopher Akerlind, Original Music and Sound Designer Fabian Obispo, Wig and Makeup Designer The Wig Associates, Dramaturg Otis Ramsey-Zöe, Casting Director Joseph Pinzon, New York Casting JZ Casting/Geoff Josselson, C.S.A. and Katja Zarolinski, C.S.A., Stage Manager Chris De Camillis, and Assistant Stage Managers Dayne Sundman and Leigh Robinette.

CAST BIOGRAPHIES (In alphabetical order)

John Austin (Joe Pitt/Prior I/Eskimo) appeared at Arena earlier this season as Ned Seton in Holiday. Previous Arena credits are Derril Lark in Right to Be Forgotten and Valentin in Kleptocracy. Other D.C. area credits include Oslo (Round House), Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes (Signature), and Melancholy Play (Constellation, Helen Award, Outstanding Production). John toured the U.S. with Me, Myself, & Shirley starring the late Cindy Williams of the hit television show Laverne & Shirley. In his hometown of Austin, Texas, John won a B. Iden Payne Award for his portrayal of Young Zeus in Zeus in Therapy. He holds a BFA from Boston University (summa cum laude, Dean's Award, Bette Davis Prize) as well as a Certificate in Classical Acting from LAMDA. Thank you for everything you have given to American theater, Molly Smith!

Frank Britton (u/s Belize, Roy Cohn) last appeared at Arena Stage nineteen years ago as a performing understudy in Orpheus Descending, directed by Molly Smith. Most recent credits include Our Town (Baltimore Center Stage), Major Barbara (Washington Stage Guild), and P.Nokio: A Hip-Hop Musical (Imagination Stage). Other D.C. area appearances include productions at Studio Theatre, Round House Theatre, Avant Bard Theatre, Adventure Theatre, 1st Stage, Theater Alliance, among many others. Regionally, Mr. Britton has appeared with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and La MaMa ETC. In 2018, he earned the Helen Hayes Award (Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play-Helen). Instagram: @frankbrittonactor

Michael Kevin Darnall (Louis Ironson) is making his Arena Stage debut. Local credits include Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare Theatre Company; Animal, Wig Out!, and The Hot Wing King at Studio Theatre; Jefferson's Garden and A Christmas Carol at Ford's Theatre; Father Comes Home From the Wars at Round House Theatre; Ulysses on Bottles at Mosaic Theater Company; and Yentl at Theater J. Michael has performed at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Chautauqua Theater Company, and RhinoLeap Productions. He frequently collaborates with MetroStage and Constellation Theatre Company, and is a company member at The Hub Theatre, and Spooky Action Theater. On television, he recurred in HBO's The Wire. Michael is a seven-time Helen Hayes Award nominee and received his BFA in Acting at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Theatre Arts.

Veronica del Cerro (u/s Hannah Pitt, Harper Pitt, The Angel) D.C. Theater: Ford's Theatre: Trip to Bountiful (u/s); Shakespeare Theatre: Othello; Constellation Theatre: Arabian Nights; GALA Theatre: El Paso Blue, Ana en el Trópico; Everyman Theatre: August: Osage County; Kennedy Center: Adventures of Homer; MetroStage: Savage in Limbo; Theater J: Andy and the Shadows, The Seagull on 16th Street; Studio Theatre: My Children! My Africa!; Rock 'n' Roll; Round House Theatre: How the García Girls Lost Their Accents. Veronica has been working internationally with groups such as Café de las Artes, Movimiento en Red (Spain), Proyecto Bicéfalo, Teatro del Mundo (Mexico). Training: BS from Virginia Tech (Psychology and Theatre Arts), Graduate of Studio Theatre Conservatory, MA in Theatre from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Upcoming Film: See You on Venus (SUR FILMS) (2023) Instagram: @mia.moca

Edward Gero (Roy Cohn/Prior II)'s Arena Stage credits include Thomas Everson, Jr. in Junk, Antonin Scalia in The Originalist, Benjamin Hubbard in The Little Foxes, and Mark Rothko in Red. He is a four-time Helen Hayes Award winner and 16-time nominee. New York credits include The Originalist (59E59). Regional credits include The Originalist (Asolo Repertory, Pasadena Playhouse, and Court Theatre, Joseph Jefferson Award nomination); Red and Gloucester in King Lear (Goodman); Nixon's Nixon and Night Alive (Round House); Sweeney Todd (Signature Theatre); Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (Ford's Theatre); and American Buffalo, Shining City and Skylight (Studio Theatre). In 32 seasons with Shakespeare Theatre Company, his over 70 roles include Helen Hayes turns in Henry IV, Richard II, and Macbeth. Film/TV credits include House of Cards, TURN: Washington's Spies, Die Hard 2, Striking Distance, and narrations for Discovery Channel and PBS. He is a Ten Chimneys 2015 Lunt-Fontanne Fellow and associate professor of theater at George Mason University.

Brandon Haagenson (u/s Louis Ironson, Prior Walter, Joe Pitt) is ecstatic to be making his Arena Stage debut! Last season, he appeared in Shakespeare Theatre Company's Our Town and The Merchant of Venice. He has performed off-Broadway in Afterglow (original cast) and My Big Gay Italian Wedding. National tours include Beauty and the Beast (Lumière) and A Christmas Carol. Regional credits include Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Stages St. Louis, Riverside Theatre, North Carolina Theatre, and North Shore Music Theatre. Television appearances include The Other Two (HBO Max) and The Food That Built America (History Channel). He earned his M.F.A. in Classical Acting at STC's Academy at The George Washington University, and has a B.F.A. in Musical Theater from Millikin University. Love to his family and friends for their unending support. Instagram: @brandonhaagenson

Bille Krishawn (The Angel/Emily/Sister Ella/Homeless Woman) is making her Arena Stage debut. Regional theater credits included Jump (Everyman Theatre); Ballad of Emmett Till (Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Play), That Summer in Sumner, Benevolence as part of the Till Trilogy (Mosaic Theater Company); The Joy That Carries You (Olney Theatre Center); Until the Flood (Studio Theatre); HERStory The Kennedy Center); The Ohio State Murders (Round House Theatre); Airness (Keegan Theatre); Airness, Civil War Christmas (1st Stage); Blood at the Root (Helen Hayes Award recipient for Outstanding Lead Performer, Outstanding Ensemble, and Outstanding Production) (Theater Alliance); Melancholy Play (Helen Haye Award nomination for Best Lead Actress, Helen Hayes Award recipient for Outstanding Production), Caucasian Chalk Circle (Constellation Theatre Company); Treasure Island (Synetic Theater); Emilie (Avant Bard); Greensboro Sit-ins (Smithsonian NMAH); How Old is a Hero (Discovery Theater); Winnie the Pooh, Jumanji (Helen Hayes Award recipient for Outstanding Production) (Adventure Theatre MTC). Film: Water in a Broken Glass (Tonya Mimms). Education: Drew University, Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

Susan Rome (Hannah Pitt/Rabbi/Henry/Ethel Rosenberg) BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON: Arena Stage: Indecent (Helen Hayes ensemble nomination), The Great Society, All the Way; Baltimore Center Stage: Our Town, Folks at Home, Indecent, After the Revolution, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Mud Blue Sky, An Enemy of the People; Signature: Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes; Folger: Love's Labor's Lost; Studio Theatre: If I Forget (Helen Hayes nominations), Hand to God (Helen Hayes ensemble nomination); Olney Theatre Center: The Diary of Anne Frank, The Joy We Carry (Helen Hayes ensemble nomination); Theater J: Edward Albee's Occupant, Roz and Ray, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Brighton Beach Memoirs (Helen Hayes Award), After the Revolution (Helen Hayes nomination), and many other plays. REGIONAL: Kansas City Repertory Theatre: Indecent; Mark Taper Forum: The Substance of Fire; many more. Film: Fishbowl, My One and Only, A Dirty Shame. Television: The Wire, We Own This City (HBO); House of Cards (Netflix).

Justin Weaks (Belize/Mr. Lies) makes their in-person Arena Stage debut with Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches after collaborating virtually with Arena on The 51st State and The Freewheelin' Insurgents during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is a company member at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, where he has appeared in There's Always the Hudson, BLKS, Gloria, and Describe the Night. D.C. area credits include: Long Way Down (Kennedy Center), Fences (Ford's Theatre), Gem of the Ocean (Round House Theatre), Pipeline (Studio Theatre), Word Becomes Flesh (Theater Alliance). Off-Broadway: i need space (The New Group). Regional credits include work with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Shakespeare & Company and Barter Theatre. Justin holds two Helen Hayes Awards and five nominations for his work. Education: Greensboro College. #HIVIsNotACrime

Nick Westrate (Prior Walter/Man in Park) On Broadway, he originated roles in Harvey Fierstein's Casa Valentina, and Theresa Rebeck's Bernhardt/Hamlet. Other favorites include the National Tour of The King's Speech as Bertie for director Michael Wilson, Tribes directed by David Cromer, The Little Foxes for Ivo van Hove, Merchant of Venice and Tartuffe with Daniel Fish, The Boys in the Band for Jack Cummings III, and as Berowne in Love's Labor's Lost for NYC's Public Theater. Three seasons as Robert Townsend on AMC's Turn: Washington's Spies. On film, he starred in William Sullivan's American Insurrection, Jonathan Demme's Ricki and the Flash, and Todd Haynes' Mildred Pierce. Next, playing Edwin Booth in Apple TV+'s Manhunt. Nick received the Special Drama Desk Award for his versatility Off-Broadway. He's a Juilliard graduate.

Deborah Ann Woll (Harper Pitt/Martin Heller) will be making her debut at Arena Stage this season. Most recently she appeared as the titular shrew, Katherine, in The Taming of the Shrew (The Old Globe, San Diego), and as Amalia Balash in Parfumerie (Wallis Annenberg, Los Angeles). She is best known for her work on television and film as Jessica Hamby on HBO's True Blood, Karen Page on Marvel's Daredevil, and Amanda in Sony's Escape Room. She is the voice and performance capture for Faye in PlayStation's God of War franchise. And you can also catch her online, creating and performing in the TTRPG space, most notably as creator and game master for Relics and Rarities and Children of Earte.