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'Angels in America' descends on Lewis Center

Thursdays through Saturdays, April 2-11, 2009, various times Matthews Acting Studio, 185 Nassau St.

Beginning Thursday, April 2, the Program in Theater and Dance in the Lewis Center for the Arts will present a senior thesis production of both parts of Tony Kushner's celebrated theatrical epic, "Angels in America," in the Matthews Acting Studio, 185 Nassau St.

"Millennium Approaches (Part One)" and "Perestroika (Part Two)," the two halves of the famously massive play, will be performed in rotating repertory to combine for a six-hour theatrical experience running through Saturday, April 11. The production will be directed by senior Sara-Ashley Bischoff and will feature senior Lovell Holder in the role of Prior Walter and senior Jordan Kisner as Harper Pitt.

Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work, written in part while he was teaching playwriting at Princeton, details the lives of Americans struggling to survive emotional and social upheaval in the waning days of 1980s New York. Focusing on the AIDS crisis, Kushner uses the health epidemic as a lens through which he explores both literal and figurative diseases that plague American culture -- strict definitions of sexuality, race, religion, politics and family.

When "Angels in America" opened in 1993, Newsweek proclaimed the work the "most ambitious American play of our time," and more than 15 years later, thesis students Bischoff, Holder and Kisner are ambitiously attempting to mount this immense work while full-time students. Director Bischoff, a comparative literature major, has spent six months with her production team and ensemble cast of eight actors -- each one playing multiple roles in addition to a central character -- in order to bring Kushner's simultaneously sprawling and devastatingly intimate world to the Princeton stage. Headed by Holder, an English major, and Kisner, a religion major, the cast also includes senior Christopher Inniss, junior Becca Foresman and junior Heather May.

The performance schedule for "Angels in America" is as follows: "Millennium Approaches (Part One)" -- 8 p.m. April 2 and April 9; and 2 p.m. April 4 and April 11; "Perestroika (Part Two)" -- 8 p.m. April 3, April 4, April 10 and April 11. The production contains adult themes, strong language, sexual scenes and nudity; audience discretion is advised. Tickets are $8 for students and seniors, and $10 for general admission. For advance tickets, visit the University Ticketing website or call (609) 258-9220.

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