URI’s Department of Theatre to present Angels in America, Part 1, Millennium Approaches

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KINGSTON, R.I. — April 3, 2006 — Why is the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Theatre choosing to present Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize, Tony-Award winning play, Angels In America, Part I, Millennium Approaches, at this time in history? asks Bryna Wortman who will direct the play. “Because it is a theatrical extravaganza creating and embracing real people in real relationships, their dreams, hallucinations, and fantasies; ancestral and cosmological influences and historical, political, societal, and metaphysical reverberations. Perhaps, too, because we need and crave angels in America, not necessarily gorgeous steel-gray-winged emissaries from heaven but their embodiment here on earth: caring, concerned, compassionate individuals who understand and live lives of tolerance and inclusion to create and sustain a diverse society, ” she responds. “Tony Kushner’s play is extraordinary. We hope you, too, will enjoy and be challenged by our production,” comments Wortman.

Angels in America, Part I will be performed in the Robert E. Will Theatre in URI’s Fine Arts Center on the Kingston campus from April 20 through 22 and 26 through 29 at 7:30 p.m. and April 23, at 3 p.m. A panel discussion, “Approaching the Millennium” will take place after the April 23, 3 p.m. performance.

In the epic play, two couples live through the modern equivalent of the plague: the AIDS crisis in 1985-86. Each confronts him/herself to discover a true identity, to learn how denial of the truth can undermine ourselves and those we love. The play ultimately is about love on every level.

The two couples evolve from white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, Jewish and Mormon traditions. They are the descendants of long-ago difficult journeys. They, with the other characters, take their own journeys from darkness to enlightenment. People are not always who they seem to be as 21 characters enliven the stage in bold, vivid colors with great depth and touching vulnerability.

Featured with characters Prior, Louis, Harper and Joe, are Attorney Roy Cohn, a character of Shakespearean proportions; his nemesis Ethel Rosenberg; Belize, former drag queen, now nurse; Mr. Lies, imaginary travel agent; Nurse Emily and Doctor Henry struggling with the human toll and government restrictions of the AIDS crisis; Hannah, a repressed mother; a homeless street lady from the South Bronx; Prior I and II from the 13th and 17th centuries and their multiple interactions in their journeys toward light and redemption. To include as many student actors as possible, the 21 characters are each played by one actor of the same gender.

The play’s scenic design is created by Dan Bilodeau; costume design by Marilyn Salvatore, lighting design by Jeffrey Whitsett, sound design by Peter Nabut.

Tickets are $14 for general admission, $10 seniors, URI faculty and staff and $8 students. For reservations, call the Theatre Box Office at 401-874-5843. For more information, call 401-874-5921 or for group sales, 401-874-2712.

The April 21 performance at 7:30 p.m. is dedicated to benefit AIDS Project Rhode Island and coordinated with the 12th Annual URI Symposium on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Issues. Tickets for this performance will be $16 general, $12 seniors, URI faculty and staff and $10 for students. Two dollars from each ticket will be donated to AIDS Project Rhode Island. A post-performance panel discussion will relate play themes to AIDS issues in the state. For more information click on www.uri.edu/glbt/symposium.htm or call Andrew Winters at 401-874-2894.

Members of the cast, their characters, and hometowns follow:

Cast, Character , Hometown

Ahmed Bharoocha, Rabbi, North Smithfield

Kyle Blanchette, Man in Park, Coventry

Patrick Bosworth, Prior #1, Narragansett

Tina Bowes, Sister Ella Chapter, Auburn, Mass.

Carlos Campbell, Belize, N. Kingstown

Erin Condry, Hannah Pitt, Warwick/Middletown

Jordan Eastwood, Louis, Saunderstown

Seth Finkle, Mr. Lies, Gloversville, N.Y.

Jed Hancock-Brainerd, Prior, Newport

Haley Hanson, Angel, Grass Valley, Calif.

Jeff Hibbert, Martin, E. Providence

Leah Kolb, S.B. Woman, Sacramento, Calif.

Alex McLeod, Prior #2, Warwick

Gillienne Nadeau, Harper, Warwick

Elise Petrarca, Ethel Rosenberg, Coventry

Patrick Poole, Dr. Henry, Pemberton, N.Y.

Ryan Romanowski, Joe Pitt, Clintondale, NY

Joe Short, Roy, South Kingstown

Anna Tobias, Emily, Warwick

Pictured above

URI students Jed Hancock-Brainerd of Newport and Haley Hanson of Grass Valley, Calif. appear in URI’s production of Angels in America, Part I. URI Photo by Randy Osga.