Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever). Follow @bffs613 on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
If there was ever a question of why you should support community theatre, Sock ‘n’ Buskin’s production of Angels in America is definitely one reason why. This epic play is not performed very often but is regarded as one of the great plays of the last thirty years. It was even turned into an HBO miniseries in 2003. It is one of the very few chances you may get to see a great and affordable performance of this powerful show.
Subtitled A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, this political drama features heavy dialogue and a running time of three hours. Focusing around a small cast and mainly two couples, the play delves into serious dilemmas around AIDS, religion, mental health and politics, which are all inextricably tied together.
Focusing around a small cast and mainly two couples, the play delves into serious dilemmas around AIDS, religion, mental health and politics, which are all inextricably tied together.
Major actors have stepped in the various characters’ shoes since it was first staged in 1991. Most recently, actors Nathan Lane, Andrew Garfield and James McArdle took part in the 2018 revival in both London and New York, and the show and cast members were nominated or won 25 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critic Circle Awards. Not just anyone can step into these characters’ shoes and do Tony Kushner’s writing justice.
The BFFs are fans of the show, having seen the filmed 2018 version—both parts—over an epic seven-plus hours in a movie theatre. We admit we weren’t sure what to expect with a local production, but we were the first on our feet at the end of opening night.
The full Angels has two parts, written years apart, but can also be done as stand-alone plays as S’n’B has done here by presenting just part one, Millennium Approaches.
Done with very simple props on an untraditional stage set up at the Glebe-St. James United Church, the minor lighting issues and opening night hiccups were completely overshadowed by the incredibly strong performances by Sheldon Parathundyil, playing Prior Walter and the on-stage chemistry with Thomas Williams, playing Louis. In scenes they shared together it was impossible to tear your eyes away from the couple.
Doing these characters’ justice is no easy feat, the show’s topics are emotional and challenging and truly brought to life in this performance. The three hours fly by as you are taken through a roller coaster of emotion. With only four performances, do not miss this opportunity to see this heartbreaking and powerful story come to life.
Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches plays at the St. James United Church for four performances (on Fridays and Saturdays) until January 25. Tickets are $10 for general admission or $5 for student admission and can be purchased online.