Considered one of the greatest works of 20th-century theatre, Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches is a gripping tale of companionship, abandonment and awakening that provides a compassionate voice to the fears engulfing a nation.
Set in New York City at the height of both the Reagan era and beginning of the AIDS crisis, eight core characters struggle to find harmony among their beliefs, their desires and the societal roles they feel obligated to uphold. Tony Kushner’s modern masterpiece is an epic exploration of politics, religion, sexuality and love that crescendos to an arresting finale.
Central to the story is Prior Walter (Damien Atkins), a gay man recently abandoned by his lover Louis (Ryan Beil) after revealing his AIDS diagnosis. This performance reunites Atkins with his role in the 2013 and 2014 Soulpepper productions, hailed by The Toronto Star as “deliver[ing] genuine loss, pain, fear and anguish. An awesome piece of acting.”
Arts Club Theatre Director Kim Collier (Saint Joan, Helen Lawrence, Tear the Curtain!) says, “Brian Markinson and I first proposed doing Angels in America to Bill Millerd in 2015 because it’s an incredible piece of theatre—a story that eloquently captured the magnitude of fears, complexities, and change happening in the ’80s and ’90s. After the recent US election, with its shift in political narrative and the resulting resistance and pain coming from its citizens, Angels in America feels more urgent than ever.”
She continued, “There are many reasons to do this play. It is ever vital in its ability to widen compassion and empathy in the world. It provides catharsis to those who have suffered, whether from AIDS or other tragic losses. It is shockingly relevant in the questions it asks of whether we will act in self-interest or as a citizen to defend our marginalized communities.”
Theatrical elements will echo Collier’s sentiments. Set Designer Ken MacKenzie calls his expansive world, painted entirely in white, “an arena of the soul,” while Sound Designers Torquil Campbell and Alessandro Juliani refer to their trumpet-infused original music as “anthems for empathy.”
Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika, the captivating sequel to Millennium Approaches, will open the Arts Club’s upcoming season. Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika plays at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage from September 7 to October 8, 2017.
Perestroika hits a pivotal turning point as several characters brace for change and visibility against political and personal tensions, while Prior wrestles with the angel and his illness on the path to redemption and acceptance. Tickets to Perestroika are currently available through Arts Club subscription packages; single tickets will go on sale in August.
Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches
Dates: March 23 to April 23
Venue: Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, 2750 Granville Street, Vancouver
Tickets: $29 and up, including tax and fees; available either online or by phoning 604.687.1644
Photos by David Cooper.