Twenty-five years ago, Angels in America wowed audiences with its brilliant colorful storyline historically set in the early years of the Reagan-era AIDS crisis. The period piece contained several layered messages, but some of its most important lessons teach us not to ignore the AIDS crisis and to come to terms with our own sexuality.
Producers Tim Levy and Jordan Roth announced on May 17 the revival of Tony Kushner’s masterpiece, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, will be offering the “Angels Fund” to provide discounted tickets to New York City HIV service organizations. Clients and employees of HIV service organizations can purchase tickets for only $5.
You probably also remember its 2003 HBO miniseries of the same name based off of the play featuring one of the most impressive dream casts of all time—including Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Emma Thompson, Patrick Wilson and Mary-Louise Parker, then on the cusp of her budding career. Mike Nichol’s adaptation would become the most-watched made-for-cable film in 2003. Its screenplay was also written by Kushner, keeping it fairly consistent with the play. Like the play, the miniseries won numerous awards, including multiple Emmys and Golden Globes for best miniseries.
The incredible cast of the plays, in its various runs and revivals, has included Cynthia Nixon and Zachary Quinto. The current cast of the play includes Susan Brown, Denise Gough, Amanda Lawrence, James McArdle, and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett with the support of Actors’ Equity Association.
Some of the organizations to receive discount tickets include Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, SAGE, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center and The LGBTQ Center.
No one deserves to watch the play than the people who have lived through the virus’ dark days. “Everyone should have the opportunity to experience art as important, topical, and challenging as Angels in America – especially people like the clients and staff of GMHC, the world’s first AIDS service organization, who may not otherwise get the chance,” said Gay Men’s Health Crisis CEO Kelsey Louie. “Thanks to the Angels Fund and the National Theatre, many of our clients and staff will be able to see the production.”
Levy explained that the people he wants to see the show the most may need access to discount tickets. He also saw a need to connect the fictional story with reality. “We wanted to make sure that individuals who are most directly connected to the content of the show, but who couldn’t afford full-priced tickets, had the opportunity to see it at an affordable price,” Levy said. “We wanted to be able to share ‘The Great Work’ with those in the community who are actually doing The Great Work.”
The fund is supported by Howard Gilman Foundation and SHS Foundation, with support from Debby Landesman, Barbara Whitman/Purple Plume Foundation, Daryl & Steven Roth & Elizabeth Armstrong.
Without a discount, tickets range from $99 to $318, depending on the venue. The broadway play’s run was extended after receiving a record-breaking 11 Tony Award nominations.
Angels in America is a two-part performance that includes Part One, Millennium Approaches and Part Two, Perestroika. In 1985, the Ronald Reagan administration was slow to accept that AIDS was a critical issue. With potential hurdles surrounding HIV and AIDS care and services today, Angels in America gains a new meaning.