SGT: What is it about ANGELS that drew you to the project?
Ben: ANGELS was the first purchase I made from The Drama Bookshop in NYC. It was a box set of both parts and all I knew was that it was rumored to be the newest modern American classic. At 17 I was too young and naive to understand all the nuance of Kushner’s writing and the complexity behind the socio-political context of the story, but I was fascinated by his ability to speak these character’s truths as effortlessly as water flows. As an adult I love and respect this script for its bravery, its timeless relevance and for bringing to light the human side of an epidemic that too many sought to keep forever in the shadows. I’ve always been a fan of pieces that make me laugh and cry, back and forth, draw me in to the heart of it and pull me out of it with a laugh and this play does that, especially with the right director. Prior is a dream role and when I heard Greg would be directing, I knew this was a project I wanted in on.
SGT: What is it about Prior that you love most?
Ben: What I love about Prior is his candid nature and quick wit. Right up through the last moment of the play, he speaks his truth and he can’t let a punchline go by unspoken, despite his own struggles. He has more courage than me, he’s much smarter and funnier than me. I adore all of those things about him.
SGT: Who is your favorite character in the play that isn’t you ?
Ben: Hannah is my favorite character. Again, I find the courage to speak your convictions very admirable and to do it with humor makes it all the more enjoyable to be around. I especially love Hannah’s overall journey through Parts I & II. If I were a closeted Mormon, I would want Hannah as my mom. She is fierce, funny and she loves her son unconditionally, enough to up and move to the other side of the country to (in her opinion) rescue him. She’s a badass Mormon momma and I love her all the more for it because she takes her own emotional, intellectual and physical journey with a fearless attitude fueled by love.
SGT: Anyone you particularly love to work with/watch in rehearsals/on stage?
Ben: SGT has this way of assembling teams that make you want to bring study materials to every rehearsal. I learn from everyone I work with and that’s especially so with this company. As far as who I love working opposite on stage, Kristin, Tony and Dudney approach every scene we have together with their whole hearts and a vulnerability that completely draws me in. I feel very fortunate to be able to spend the majority of the show getting lost in their eyes and the world we’ve created. And Kristen Tripp Kelley is one-of-a-kind. To work with her in any capacity is equally humbling and inspiring. This cast and crew remind me daily why I chose this profession.