By Melinda Miller, March 9th, 2019 Nearly two decades after Y2K and 30 years after Tony Kushner gave the world his “AIDS play,” the hefty two-part “Angels in America” remains one of the brightest stars in the theater firmament.
Rather than dating the play, the distance of time brings even more clarity to the understanding that “Angels” isn’t just about AIDS at all. In its comic and tragic voices, it speaks to all humanity.
The beauty of the much-honored play is on full display in Second Generation Theatre’s production of “Angels in America: Part One, The Millennium Approaches,” now playing in Shea’s Smith Theatre. While Kushner’s vision is sprawling, the characters’ emotional interactions are desperately intimate, and the cozy venue is a fine place to share them.
SGT: We are so glad to have you back on stage with SGT. You were a part of our very first show.
KTK: I was the voice of the Giant in SGT’s inaugural production of “Into the Woods,” and then got to use my whole body as Sonia in “Vanya, Sonia, Masha, and Spike.”
SGT: What is it about ANGELS that drew you to the project?
KTK: I love this play. It was a game changer when it was first performed, and has been teaching and inspiring us ever since. It manages to address the AIDS crisis in a way that’s both Epic and personal. It’s got elements of theatre magic, it’s absurdly funny, it’s smart and political, but is grounded with truthful, break your heart human moments. The abandonment, fear, and love these characters experience is still very relatable. When I learned Greg was directing, and that Kristin, Steve, Ben, and Dudney were already on board, I jumped at the chance to support the production.
SGT: You play many characters in this show- are there any of them that you relate to strongly?
KTK: I relate to Sister Ella Chapter’s wish for her friend to “stay put.” That’s a very Buffalo thing I think, we like our roots. I admire Nurse Emily’s bravery and compassion. I worked with my mother, a retired nurse, on some of the business I have to do on stage, and talked with her for the first time about her experience caring for AIDS patients in the 1980s. Women like my mother were on the front lines before any good research was out there because they knew it was the right thing to do. Finally, I admire the Angel’s insistence on making a grand entrance.
SGT: Who is your favorite character in the play that isn’t you ?
KTK: Harper. Kristin’s doing a beautiful job of capturing her fragility, and her strong survivor instincts. She’s childlike and poetic, but also powerfully incisive.
SGT: Is there anyone you particularly love to work with/watch?
KTK:I am so moved by Ben’s vulnerability as Prior. He’s going to all of the dark and scary places in the script, yet manages to let his inimitable light shine through.