Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 10, 2014

Angels in America

Part One: Millennium Approaches
Playhouse On Park, West Hartford, CT
through October 19, 2014
by Walt Haggerty

Playhouse On Park has created an extraordinary production of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize winning play “Angels in America," and to borrow a line from Arthur Miller, “Attention must be paid!”

“Angels in America” was written some 20 years ago, approximately ten years after the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic, and, yes, it is about AIDS, and oh so much more. The play is about caring, compassion, and love. It is about human needs -- physical as well as emotional. It is about concern for one another and mutual support. It is about attempting to live up to expectations, facing and accepting who we are and what we are, and finally, about survival.
Photo by Rich Wagner

The Playhouse On Park production is directed by Sean Harris with great sensitivity and flawlessly cast with an exceptionally talented ensemble, every one of whom delivers an award-deserving performance. In most cases, cast members perform multiple roles, always with distinctly drawn characterizations.

It is impossible to identify any single player for special praise, as this is a true ensemble production with every participant contributing brilliantly. These are not simply actors playing a part; they truly become the character they are portraying. Notable contributions are made by all, starting with Jim Shankman as Roy Cohn, Time Hackney as Joe Pitt, Kristen Harlow as Joe’s wife Harper, James Parenti as Prior Walter, Marty Scanlon as his partner Louis, Clark Beasley Jr. as Mr. Lies and Belize, and Olivia as four different characters as well as an off-stage voice. Bravos to all!

The venue is an intimate, comfortable theatre with the audience seated on three sides facing a large performance space. The producers are to be commended for their courage in bringing a very difficult production to local audiences. This is a rare opportunity to see one of the most challenging works of the past two decades in a magnificent production. The cast and presentation deserve full houses at every performance. Attendees will be richly rewarded.