Also see John's review of A House With No Walls
The New World School of the Arts celebrates its 20th anniversary with Part I of Angels in America at The Colony Theatre. Written by Tony Kushner, Angels In America had its Broadway debut at the Walter Kerr Theatre in 1993. Part I Millennium Approaches, was performed first in May, with Part II Perestroika added in repertory in November of that same year. Both received Tony Awards as well as the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play. Tony Kushner went on to receive the coveted Pulitzer Prize for his Millennium Approaches. In 2003, HBO made both parts of Angels In America into a mini-series that received eleven Emmy Awards.
The play starts off with a rabbi delivering a eulogy for a woman who made the crossing to that new world called America. She fought hard to keep that heritage alive for her children and their children, so they would never forget who they were. It is the story of almost every American family, summed up in one eulogy.
The story turns to the political landscape of America in the 1980s and the world of Ronald Reagan and George Bush at the beginning of the AIDS crises. The characters depicted live out a tapestry of entwined lives. They deal with issues of AIDS, Jewish and Mormon identity, homosexuality, Liberalism versus Conservatism, civil freedom and political corruption, power and greed, faith and compassion, and ultimate enlightenment.
This production of Part I of Angels In America is superbly directed by Stuart Meltzer. Difficult scenic and acting transitions flow seamlessly from start to finish. The set is beautifully striking and clean, and the lighting and sound enhance the play without distraction. The staging is smart and logical, with brief nudity being handled in a tasteful manner.
David Sirois plays Roy M. Cohn with eerie accuracy. Tyrone Davis is believably savvy as Belize. Johnny Mineo is good as the conflicted Louis. Katie Middleton is heartfelt as the emotionally fragile Harper, and James Allerdyce turns in a solid performance as her closeted husband Joseph. The standout performance of this production is Dominic Benevento as Prior. He tackles a difficult and demanding role with depth and humor. The only weak spots are a bad Yiddish accent from the Rabbi in the opening scene, and an awkward Ethel Rosenberg. This production of Angels In America: Millennium Approaches is a shining example of truly fine handling of complex and thought provoking theatre. It is so well acted, well directed and well executed, that it is well worth wondering why most of the local professional theatres are not able to match the quality of this educational one.
The New World School of the Arts' production of Part I of Angels In America appeared at The Colony Theatre February 9, 2007 - February 11, 2007. The New World School of the Arts was created by the Florida Legislature as a Center of Excellence in the visual and performing arts. It is an educational partnership of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College and the University of Florida. For more information on the New World School of the Arts, you may contact them by phone at 305/ 237-3135, on line at www.mdc.edu/nwsa/. The newly remodeled 465-seat Colony Theatre is located at 1040 Lincoln Rd., South Miami Beach, FL. for information on their season you may contact them at 305/ 348-5555.