Signature's Angels in America Repertory Will Begin Sept. 14

News   Signature's Angels in America Repertory Will Begin Sept. 14
 
Signature Theatre Company's new Off-Broadway production of Tony Kushner's highly-honored Angels in America, directed by Michael Greif, will launch Sept. 14, the not-for-profit announced on Jan. 14.
Tony Kushner
Tony Kushner Photo by Roy Zipstein

The Signature plan to stage the six-hour, Tony Award-winning, two-part work (Millennium Approaches and Perestroika) had been previously announced, but a start date hadn't.

The repertory performance schedule of its two parts will begin with the first performance. Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes will kick off Signature's 20th anniversary season. This first major New York City revival of Angels in America will open in late October on a date to be announced.

Subscriptions to Signature's 2010-11 Tony Kushner season will go on sale this spring, with individual tickets for Angels in America going on sale this summer. On sale dates will be announced in coming weeks. The season will include two more Kushner works to be announced. Casting is currently underway.

Angels in America, according to Signature, "is set in late 1985 and early 1986, as the first wave of the AIDS epidemic in America is escalating and Ronald Reagan has been elected to a second term in the White House. The play's two parts…bring together a young gay man with AIDS and his frightened, unfaithful lover; a closeted Mormon lawyer and his valium-addicted wife; the infamous New York lawyer Roy Cohn; an African-American male nurse; a Mormon housewife from Utah; and a steel-winged, prophecy-bearing angel; as well as the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg, an ancient rabbi, the world's oldest living Bolshevik and a Reagan administration functionary, among many others — all played by a company of eight actors. The lives of these disparate characters intersect, intertwine, collide and are blown apart during a time of heartbreak, reaction and transformation. Ranging from earth to heaven, from the political to the intimate to the visionary and supernatural, Angels in America is an epic exploration of love, justice, identity and theology, of the difficulty, terror and necessity of change."

Angels in America was one of the most critically acclaimed plays of the 1990s and established Tony Kushner as a major new voice in world theatre. The plays were developed in productions in Los Angeles, San Francisco and London, before opening on Broadway in 1993. Both parts won Tony Awards in 1993 and 1994 for Best Play, and Millennium Approaches won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Kushner adapted the plays for an HBO mini-series, directed by Mike Nichols, which premiered in 2003 and won Golden Globe and Emmy Awards for Best Miniseries. As in recent seasons, the Signature Ticket Initiative, "which seeks to make great theatre accessible to the broadest possible audience," will make all regularly-priced single tickets ($65) during the initial announced run and available for $20. The Signature Ticket Initiative is made possible by the lead sponsorship of Time Warner Inc. Support for The Signature Ticket Initiative is provided by Margot Adams, in memory of Mason Adams.

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"I'm very excited about my Signature season and of course I'm very honored to have been chosen," Tony Kushner said. "I've spent some of my best nights watching the work [artistic director] Jim Houghton and Signature Theatre Company has produced. It seemed to Jim and me that this is a good moment to bring Angels back to New York, and I'm delighted that Michael Greif has agreed to direct it. Michael and I have worked together and known each other for most of our careers. He's a serious, generous, incredibly smart and superbly talented artist; I love his passionate commitment to actors, to plays, to the theatre. I think the Signature's the perfect space for the demands of Angels, which is both epic and intimate. I can't wait to see how it all turns out."

Tony Award nominee Greif (who directed Broadway's Rent and Next to Normal) stated, "Mounting Tony's exquisite play in the intimate Signature Theatre will be an extraordinary challenge but will offer even more extraordinary rewards. I know I'll be aided by an astonishing group of actors and designers anxious to wrestle with this masterpiece. I cherish my continued collaboration with Tony and the Signature."

Greif directed Kushner's new play, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, in 2009 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.)

Kushner's plays also include A Bright Room Called Day; Slavs!; Homebody/Kabul; adaptations of Corneille's The Illusion, S.Y. Ansky's The Dybbuk and Brecht's The Good Person of Sezuan. Recent books include "Brundibar" (Hyperion Books), a book for children with illustrations by Maurice Sendak, and "Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict" (Grove Atlantic), co-edited with Alisa Solomon. Kushner's awards include the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, two Tony Awards for Best Play, two Obie Awards for Best Play, an Arts Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Mid-Career Playwright, a Spirit of Justice Award from the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders and a Cultural Achievement Award from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.

Signature Theatre Company, founded in 1991 by James Houghton, commits each season to one living playwright — making "an extended commitment to a playwright's body of work, and during this journey, the writer is engaged in every aspect of the creative process." Seasons include re-examinations of past writings as well as New York and world premieres. "By championing in-depth explorations of a living playwright's body of work, the Company delivers an intimate and immersive journey into the playwright's singular vision."

Signature has presented entire seasons of the work of Edward Albee, Lee Blessing, Horton Foote, Maria Irene Fornes, John Guare, Bill Irwin, Adrienne Kennedy, Romulus Linney, Charles Mee, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Paula Vogel, August Wilson, Lanford Wilson, and a season celebrating the historic Negro Ensemble Company.

The company will unveil a new home in 2012 on West 42nd Street.

For more information, visit www.SignatureTheatre.org.

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