Monday, January 23, 2012

Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika

11-11-11 solidified its place in history as The Best Day of My Life. It was the day we opened Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika. As dramatic and exaggerated as this may is true. It was the day all of our hard work, an amazing story and a great work of art was to be shared with the public. Now, I can't think of anything more perfect then that.

The rehearsal process and run of the show was nothing short of amazing. Day after day I would take time to just look around the room and marvel at the vast amount of talent and love that filled the space. Rehearsals were the highlight of my day. Everyday began with hugs, the occasional Tony award and the immersion into group who day in and day out rooted for the successes in each other. This is a rare commodity. Not only did we get along in rehearsals, we all became close friends outside as well. In just a few short months we went from strangers to simple cast mates to best friends. Half of the cast worked on Part One together and already had an established relationship, however, rather than feeling like an outsider to the group, the newbies (I feel like I can speak for all the newbies when I say this) were immediately questions asked.  I found a family in this group...and I hope they found family in me in return. This was not limited to just cast members, but crew as well. We were like a well oiled machine who was working on churning out an excellent product.

The biggest thing I can attribute to this immediate bonding and togetherness was that we all stood behind the story we were telling 110%. We knew we were a part of something bigger then ourselves. We had a job to do everyday: to tell this story in the best, most honest way...and because of this, the day to day B.S. and other things that were fighting to keep us down  physically, mentally, or emotionally just melted away.

Here are some photos!

Not only were we proud of each other, we received great reviews as well!

Angels in America - Perestroika

Corn Stock Theatre
November 11-13 & 18-19
By Douglas Okey

“God is dead,” Nietzsche wrote in The Gay Science in 1882.  One hundred years later, Prior Walter discovers that God, in fact, has merely wandered off. 
This celestial factoid is revealed to Prior in the second half of Tony Kushner’s iconic Angels in America.  The latter half of the seven-hour “Gay Fantasia on National Themes,” titled Perestroika, is currently on stage at the Corn Stock Winter Playhouse.  Those who saw the first half, Millennium Approaches, last season will find a satisfying conclusion to the saga.  Others who may be new to the story will have to work a little harder to catch up, but there’s much in director Dani Keil’s production to reward the effort.  
Perestroika picks up pretty much precisely where Millennium Approaches left off.  It is 1986 in New York.  Prior Walter lies sick in his bed with AIDS.  His former partner, Louis Ironson, continues to develop a new relationship with Mormon Republican Joe Pitt, who has left his emotionally unstable wife, Harper.  Joe’s boss, McCarthyite demon Roy Cohn (inspired by the real-life closeted homosexual), slowly dies of AIDS in his hospital bed, attended by nurse and ex-drag queen Belize, while Joe’s Mormon mother, Hannah, fresh off the plane from Salt Lake City, works to bring her son and Harper back together.  
Oh, and there’s the Angel that smashed through the ceiling of Prior’s apartment in the closing image of the first part of the play.  And the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg haunting Roy as he dies.  And figures from a diorama at the Mormon Museum who stroll out of the display to talk to Harper.  And the fascinating, bird-like Principalities of the Earth whom Prior, apparently a Prophet of the Old Testament stripe, encounters when he visits Heaven with the Angel.  No attempt to explain these bizarre elements will fit them neatly into any preconceived idea of drama.  It helps if you don’t ask a lot of questions, or at least ask them later, when you have time to reflect.  
Corn Stock’s production emphasizes the restructuring implied in the title: of society, of politics, of lives, of relationships—of, seemingly, the universe as God created it.  The play finds its fundamental chemistry in the volatile and riveting reactions in the unlikeliest pairings: Verbal jousting between Roy and Belize, played here with fierce intensity by Clark Rians and Eric Gore; socio-political and emotional fencing between Louis and Joe, performed by Andrew Rhodenbaugh and Aaron Hoover; and the surprising and moving spark of affection between Hannah and Prior, in portrayals by Rebecca Frankel Clifton and Jacob Uhlman.  Sarah Tilford has a surprising amount of fun with Harper, while Natalie Patrnchak turns in a dynamic and athletic performance as the Angel.  
Overall, the performances are electrifying.  Clifton, Uhlman, Gore, and Rians shine in their reprisal of roles from last season, while the newer performers slip seamlessly into their parts and inhabit them fully.  The play can confound at times with its multiple levels of reality and the fugue of parallel scenes, but the cast never misses a step.  It is in part a tribute to the design work of Liz Tanner and the direction of Keil that the evening proceeds so smoothly.  If the piece drags at times, it can be attributed to Kushner’s style, which has been described as “overwrought.”  
Theatregoers up to the challenge can see Angels in America: Perestroika at the Corn Stock Winter Playhouse November 13, 18, and 19.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and are available by calling 676-2196 or online at

Posted November 16, 2011

We were also mentioned in the PJ Star's Remembering 2011 in Entertainment. 

GRANDPA even came to see the show!


It has been a real honor getting to know and work with a group of talented, loving people. I thank my lucky stars everyday they found me. My life has been so enhanced and changed for the better. They make me strive to become a better person and artist everyday...and for that, I am eternally grateful. 

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