The drama interweaves the stories of a gay couple split apart by AIDS; a Mormon couple separated by their secret fantasies; and a legendary lawyer fading into history. It is set against the backdrop of New York City in 1985 — a time made apparent by a scene which reveals the pre-9/11 Manhattan skyline. The "gay fantasia" includes mystical sequences — executed more simply on film than on stage — filled with ghosts of ancestors and accused spy Ethel Rosenberg, a trip through a refrigerator to Antarctica and, of course, a visit from an angel.
A male quartet of stage performers — Patrick Wilson (Oklahoma!), Ben Shenkman (Proof), Justin Kirk (Love! Valour! Compassion!) and original Broadway cast member Jeffrey Wright (Topdog/ Underdog) — are joined in the cast by Mary-Louise Parker (Proof).
James Cromwell, Michael Gambon and Simon Callow are also featured in the film. Streep, Thompson, Wright and Kirk perform multiple roles.
Kushner's stage works, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America: Perestroika won the Best Play Tony Awards in 1993 and 1994, respectively. The first half also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The Broadway cast of Angels in America included Ellen McLaughlin as the Angel, Ron Leibman as Roy Cohn, Stephen Spinella as Prior Walter, Joe Mantello as Louis Ironson, Marcia Gay Harden as Harper Pitt, David Marshall Grant as Joe Pitt, Kathleen Chalfant as Hannah Pitt and Jeffrey Wright in a variety of roles, including the former drag queen Belize.
The screen version of Millennium Approaches is divided into three chapters "Bad News," "In Vitro" and "The Messenger" and Perestroika is also segmented into "Stop Moving," "Beyond Nelly" and "Heaven, I'm in Heaven."
For more information, visit www.hbo.com/films/angelsinamerica.