On October 8th. Glenn Close, Laura Linney, Patti LuPone, S. Epatha Merkerson and Jeremy O. Harris will present a free hourlong virtual benefit performance of seven scenes from ” Tony Kushner’s award winning “Angels in America,” the 1993 play about the AIDS.
Though the 15 actors filmed themselves in separate locations, in a feat of technical wizardry, their likenesses have been collaged together to make it look as though they are in the same room. “It lives between a theater piece and a film,” the performance’s director, Ellie Heyman, said. “I’ve never worked on anything like it.”
The twist is that the casting departs from tradition as Close will transform herself into Roy Cohn, the evil closeted gay lawyer. The drug-addicted housewife Harper Pitt is typically played by a woman in her early 30s, but in this production, the 89-year-old actress Lois Smith tackles the role. And Brian Tyree Henry, a Black man, is one of three performers stepping into a part usually filled by a white actor: Prior Walter, a 30-year-old gay man who contracts AIDS. (The other two will be Paul Dano and Andrew Rannells.)
The play is a complex, often metaphorical, and at times symbolic examination of AIDS and homosexuality in America in the 1980s. Certain major and minor characters are supernatural beings (angels) or deceased persons (ghosts). The play contains multiple roles for several of the actors. Initially and primarily focusing on a gay couple in Manhattan, the play also has several other storylines, some of which occasionally intersect.
The entire two-part play debuted on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre in 1993, directed by George C. Wolfe, with Millennium Approaches performed on May 4 and Perestroika joining it in repertory on November 23, closing December 4, 1994.