Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-12-07



'Angels' arise at Court Theatre
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times

This article shared 2190 times since Wed Mar 28, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Court Theatre artistic director Charles Newell was taken aback when Pulitzer Prize-winning out playwright Tony Kushner prodded him to direct Angels in America.

"I went 'Oh my God!," said Newell, recalling his reaction when first asked to take on Angels. "We then had an extensive conversation about why."

Angels in America, of course, is Kushner's epic and multi-award-winning drama dealing with AIDS that premiered in the early 1990s and has since been staged around the world. Broken into two parts, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, Angels in America teems with magical realism and plenty of political commentary on life, religion and politics under the administration of President Ronald Regan.

Angels in America mixes historical characters alongside fictional ones dreamed up by Kushner for his heady work that he subtitled "A Gay Fantasia on National Themes." It starts in 1985 at the height of the AIDS crisis in New York, and journeys along the way to Salt Lake City, Antarctica and even heaven as eight actors portray multiple characters dealing with love, loss, sickness, death, prescription drugs and more.

"It's an incredibly ambitious and incredibly challenging undertaking for any theater to do both parts of this play," Newell said.

This isn't the first time Newell has directed works by Kushner at Court Theatre. Newell helmed a critically acclaimed and Jeff Award-winning production of the 2004 musical Caroline, or Change by Kushner and composer Jeanine Tesori in 2008, and then Newell drew even more admiration the esteemed playwright by directing Kushner's adaptation of Pierre Corneille's The Illusion in 2010.

In light of those productions, Kushner and Newell became closer friends and artistic colleagues. Initially the two were discussing future collaborations with Newell directing Kushner adaptations of works by Brecht and Goethe, before the suggestion for Angels in America arose.

"When Tony Kushner says I want you to direct 'Angels in America,' how can you say no? And yet I needed to make sure I was really doing it for the right reasons for myself and for the theater and for our community," Newell said. "It just had incredibly profound things to say asking how do we take care of ourselves, how do we take care of each other? Those ideas and those questions seemed even more pressing and more necessary today than ever. So I came back to Tony and said I would be honored to do this piece at Court."

Of course, it's easier said than done when it comes to staging an epic like Angels in America. The play it calls for so many different locations and theatrical effects like a flying angel who crashes in to proclaim an ill HIV-positive man to be to a spiritual prophet.

"This is certainly the most ambitious production in terms of the resources of Court Theatre. Just even the architecture of the building is being stretched," Newell said, noting how the 251—seat theater lacks a suitable fly space.

Working with designers like John Clubert (sets), Mike Tutaj (projections), Keith Parham (lighting) and Joshua Horvath (sound), Newell said, "I feel all the design work we did ahead of time required six or seven radical iterations to finally arrive at ideas that are working very well. I'm very glad to say that we have hit upon an idea that I think is going to carry us all to the end of the play's epilogue."

Newell is also pleased to be work with many Chicago acting veterans in the cast like Mary Beth Fisher, Hollis Resnick, Larry Yando, Heidi Kettenring, alongside some up-and-coming actors such as Eddie Bennet, Michael Pogue and Geoff Packard.

"I feel incredibly lucky and fortunate to have so many [actors] that I have a long history with, and some actors in the company who are new to me and to Court Theatre," Newell said, reflecting on his nearly 20 years of working in Chicago. "I think we have the best of the Chicago acting community in the cast."

The Court Theatre revival of Angels in America follows a wildly acclaimed off-Broadway revival that played at the Signature Theatre in New York last year, and will feature Kushner's newly-revised take on Perestroika.

Throughout rehearsals, Newell said he's been in contact with Kushner who is still offering up ideas and suggestions.

"I think he very much wanted this piece to be playing in Chicago during an election season," Newell said. "I'm thrilled that Court has taken on this challenge and I hope that people come to see both parts in what ever way they can. But if they can see both on a single day, I think that is a very special way to see this play."

Angels in America Part 1: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America Part 2: Perestroika run in repertory now through Sunday, June 30, at the Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. Tickets are $35-$65 (special two-play packages are available). Call 773-753-4472 or visit .

This article shared 2190 times since Wed Mar 28, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Toni Stone at the Goodman 2023-02-07
Review by Tracy Baim - Lydia R. Diamond's original play, Toni Stone, is simply wonderful on all levels. Directed by Ron OJ Parson in its Chicago premiere at the Goodman Theatre, the play is about the first known woman to play ...

Gay News

The Jeff Awards announces 2023 Non-Equity theater award nominations 2023-02-05
--From a press release - Chicago—The Joseph Jefferson Awards announces its nominations for theater excellence among Non-Equity theater. The Non-Equity awards presented in 2023 spotlight 167 theater artists across 28 categories of excellence in theater ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jerrod Carmichael, Alan Cumming, Andre Leon Talley, AIDS drama 2023-02-05
- Openly gay stand-up comic and recent Golden Globes host Jerrod Carmichael is set to star in a comedy documentary series for HBO, according to Entertainment Weekly. The yet-untitled series will center on Carmichael's personal life, following ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Andy Warhol in Iran juggles art, celebrity and geopolitics 2023-02-01
- Andy Warhol in Iran. Playwright: Brent Askari At: Northlight Theatre at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie Tickets: 847-673-6300 or; $30-$89. Runs through Feb. 19 The prolific 20th century gay ...

Gay News

Chicago theater charges on through the cold months 2023-01-31
- The ongoing 2022-2023 theater season—roughly September to June—will be the first complete production season in Chicago in three years. A few troupes cautiously returned to live performances late last spring, but most companies waited until the ...

Gay News

Billy Porter discusses his fashion choices, personal ambitions 2023-01-30
- Billy Porter—the Tony, Emmy and Grammy winner—needs no introduction—especially to the many fans of his character Pray Tell on Ryan Murphy's hit TV series Pose. Coming up exclusively in theaters Feb. 3, Porter will star as ...

Gay News

Des Plaines Theater cancels anti-LGBTQ hate group event after outcry from citizens 2023-01-20
- DuPage County-based Awake Illinois was set to hold an event called "Out of the Echo Chamber: Coalition for Kids" at the city-owned, but not city-operated, Des Plaines Theatre Wednesday, Feb. 8. This event has now been ...

Gay News

Theater Review: tick, tick...BOOM! 2023-01-19
- One of the wonders of live theater is that old works can be revived and reinterpreted to respond to changes in culture and society. Often a new directorial approach can make tried-and-true material feel fresh and ...

Gay News

Theater Review: Princess Ivona is a dark but comic portrait of power 2023-01-19
- Playwright: Witold Gombrowicz. At: Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland St. Tickets: 773-384-0494 or; $25 (two-for-one admission Thursdays) Runs through Feb. 18 Trap Door Theatre is now tackling the ...

Gay News

Jordan Vasquez treats Chicago to Fosse's Chicago 2023-01-12
- Actor and openly gay performer Jordan Vasquez, an Illinois native now living in New York City, is giving Chicago audiences "the old razzle dazzle" in the fabulous musical Chicago. This dynamically talented performer brings with him ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Diversity report, Dave Bautista, Leslie Jordan, greatest singers 2023-01-08
- The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative's latest "Inclusion in the Director's Chair" report analyzes the gender and race/ethnicity of the directors behind last year's 100 highest-grossing movies in the country, while the San Diego State Center ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Best in theater, TV, film and music; Obama's favorites; 'Glass Onion' 2022-12-31
- Deadline's Broadway critic revealed his picks for the best of 2022. Leopoldstadt topped his list, but other productions included Kimberly Akimbo, Some Like It Hot, Into the Woods, Hangmen, Ain't No Mo', A Strange Loop, Topdog/Underdog, ...

Gay News

PrideArts, Chicago drag artists co-produce story of a drag family's tribulations 2022-12-22
-- From a press release - CHICAGO — PrideArts will celebrate the arrival of the year 2023 by teaming up with the Chicago drag performers Tirrany Reigns and Ramona Mirage to stage Reigns' original Queer Family Dramedy, set just after New Year's ...

Gay News

Oak Park Festival Theatre makes history with new artistic director 2022-12-20
- The Oak Park Festival Theatre (OPFT)—the oldest professional classical theater in the Midwest—announced that Peter G. Andersen will be joining the company as its new artistic director in January 2023. It is the first time that a person ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Best and worst films, Broadway, Adam Lambert, 'Proud Family,' women's hockey 2022-12-18
- IndieWire revealed its list of the best LGBTQ+ films and TV series of 2022. Just some of the selections included Benediction, Bros, Do Revenge, Fire Island, Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Inspection, Los Espookys, P-Valley, ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.