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We Need More “Angels in America”

Review by Spenser Smith of Angels in America: NKU Theatre

Angels in America, the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play by Tony Kushner, first premiered 25 years ago, yet the current production on stage at NKU reminds us how much of our journey remains.

The story of the play exists during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Prior (Jacob Miller) has just found his first lesion and his partner Louis (Matthew Nassida) is in denial from the start. Louis meets Joe Pitt (Sam Johnson) during one of his many breakdowns in the bathroom at work. Joe is a Salt Lake City Mormon living with his pill-popping wife Harper (Grace Wesson) and they have some demons of their own. Joe is offered the opportunity to work in Washington by big-time attorney Roy Cohn (Alex Slade). Roy is in the middle of a little financial mishap and might need Joe on his side. Prior eventually winds up in the hospital, against his will, but finds comfort in Belize (Isaiah Reaves) who brings along a soothing (and smelly) cream to help heal his wounds.

I am loathe to give away any more of the story, as I believe the beauty comes with experiencing all the trials and tribulations in real time. It’s a shame this story had to have been written from true events but the students on stage in this production should be most proud. It is clear how much time was spent on each individual character and their relationship to others. It’s so rare to see a production that has such a laser-focus on the text. The words are so important. Our words are so important. Congratulations to Michael Hatton and his incredible cast on a story well told.

The technical elements were equally top notch. Set (Ron Shaw) and sound (Terry Powell) elements complimented one another beautifully. The non-specific scenic elements and musical underscoring lent themselves to the idea of universality. Love and loss can be experienced by anyone, anywhere and somehow we are all connected. The ideas behind the choices were wonderful, albeit some scene changes seemed very labored on opening night. Lighting Designer Larry Csernik blends all the different universes and relationships together with beautiful colors and effects.

If this production is not yet on your list of “things to see” in the next ten days, you should call the NKU Box Office at 859-572-5464 and reserve your tickets now.

*On opening night, the roles of Rabbi Chemelwitz/Henry/Hannah Pitt/Ethel Rosenberg were played by NKU professor Corrie Danieley. At all future performances those roles will be played by Ella Rivera,” as stated in the program.

Angels in America continues at the Corbett Theatre on the campus of Northern Kentucky University through February 24.

For tickets, call 859-572-5464 or visit theatre.NKU.edu.