Theatre Mirror Review "Angels in America -- Part One"


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone

"Angels in America -- Part One"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Epic Theatre's closing show of their season is the 1993 Pulitzer prize winner "Angels in America Part One" written by Tony Kushner. The show takes place in 1985 and focuses in on the stories of two troubled couples, one gay, one straight:word processor Louis Ironson and his lover, Prior Walter, and Mormon lawyer, Joe Pitt and his wife, Harper. Prior has contracted AIDS and Louis panics while Joe is offered a job in the Justice Department by Roy Cohn, his right-wing, bigoted mentor and friend. But Harper who is addicted to valium and suffers from hallucinations doesn't want to move to Washington. The two couples fates become intertwined when Joe finds Louis crying in the bathroom of the courthouse and Louis thinks Joe is gay. Many travails occur from then on including a rabbi, a black drag queen, Ethel Rosenberg and assorted characters. Part One ends when the angel finally descends on Prior to proclaim the great work has finally begun. Directors Jill D. Jones and Kevin Broccoli cast astounding performers, giving them an expert mixture of comic and dramatic moments to entrance and mesmerize the audience all night long.

Jill and Kevin keep the action flowing constantly from scene to scene. They obtain the best from their cast and Kevin does double duty in the show, portraying Louis. Louis is a young Jewish man who is caught off guard by the death of his grandmother and his lover's contracting AIDS. He does a topnotch job portraying the conflicting emotions of this character. Kevin endears himself to the audience with his talent. Equally talented is Michael Puppi as Prior. He captures the essence of this ill person while giving an energetic and heartfelt performance. His scenes are emotion packed and excellent. Michael was always a topnotch performer whom I first reviewed as a student at URI. R Bobby as Roy Cohn knocks the socks off the audience with his portrayal of this foul mouthed Republican bad ass. R Bobby makes all his funny, caustic and sarcastic lines count.

  C.T. Larsen is magnificent as Joe Pitt who is tortured by his religious upbringing as a Mormon and the struggle within himself as whether he is gay or not. He captures the indecisiveness of the character splendidly. All his scenes crackle and sizzle with electricity especially effective is the breakup between Joe and Harper and Louis and Prior performed at the same time at the end of Act 2. Melanie Stone shines as the pill popping, insecure wife, Harper. She makes the delusions segment to Antarctica funny with her tour guide, Mr. Lies. One of the biggest scene stealers is Victor Terry as Belize, the drag queen. He has many one liners and wins much laughter from his excellent, comic delivery. Mary Paolino is a hoot as the bag lady in the park who confronts Joe's uptight mother, Hannah played wonderfully by Joan Batting who tells the psychotic woman to tell her how to get to Brooklyn. Joan and C.T. have an excellent phone call scene when Joe confesses he is gay to his mother.Mary also excels as Ethel Rosenberg who gets her vengeance on Roy when she taunts him after his attack and she also plays a sympathetic Rabbi.R Bobby and Theodore Clement play Prior's comic ancestors, winning many laughs at their comic antics. So for a chance to see an excellent version of this Tony Award winning show, be sure to catch "Angels in America" to observe some superb acting by this astounding cast.

"Angels in America -- Part One" (20 - 29 June)
@ Theatre 82, 82 Rolfe Street, CRANSTON RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide