As its inaugural production in the new Lorton Performance Center, the University of Tulsa Theatre Department will present part two, Perestroika, of Tony Kushner's epic Broadway play Angels in America.
Audiences had a chance to see part one, Millennium Approaches, last month when local community theater company Actors Co. of Tulsa presented it at Tulsa Community College's VanTrease Performing Arts Center for Education.
Millennium Approaches was debuted as a workshop in 1990 by the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles and then further developed with the Mark Taper Forum, where it was performed. Its world premiere was in 1991 with the Eureka Theatre Co. in San Francisco.
Perestroika premiered in 1992 at the Mark Taper Forum, and the two halves were presented in repertory on Broadway in 1993. Both earned Tony Awards for Best Play, and they were combined to create an HBO miniseries in 2003.
"The play reminds us of the internal spirit that forged America," a press release from the TU theatre department says. "It makes us uncomfortable in places and, like the character (Prior Walter, played by Sean Rooney), we want to overcome apathy and malaise, to move forward, to take action. The America of Kushner's play is full of hope and love, as well as fear and despair. He presents a raw, loving, piercing, darkly humorous play -- one full of passion and laughter."
Angels in America: Part I introduces audiences to a cast of characters living in New York City in 1985. Some are openly gay; some are still closeted; some are living with AIDS. Prior Walter is attempting to reconcile his sexuality with his religion. An angel visits him, proclaiming him a prophet, one who will denounce the persecution of gay men.
In Perestroika, Prior admits that his deteriorating health might be the reason for his hallucinations -- or that he might actually be a prophet, ending the play on a hopeful note.
Though the Lorton Performance Center officially opened last month with a sort of preview of the musical and arts performances expected over the year, this is the first work to be presented by the theatre department.
Located on Gary Place on the east end of Harwell Field, the Lorton Performance Hall will house the School of Music and the Film Studies Department.
The 77,000-square-foot facility features concert hall with seating for 700 on two floors; a full performance stage with ballet floor, scenery fly and trap room; a hydraulic orchestra pit; theatrical lighting and acoustical control booths; a 6,000-square-foot grand hall designed for art display and pre-function gatherings; spacious offices for faculty in the School of Music and the Department of Film Studies; specialized rehearsal and practice rooms designed to accommodate groups of various sizes; classrooms and seminar rooms; an electronic piano laboratory; individual practice rooms for vocal and instrumental instruction; film production suite with post-production editing and scoring capabilities; two recital halls, including one with fixed seating for 100 and another with flexible seating to accommodate groups of various sizes; a dressing suite complete with a green room and VIP lounge, as well as shower and laundry facilities; ample space for theatrical set and instrument storage, a costume shop and storage area, and a scenery staging room; a catering kitchen; a ticket office; and dramatic colonnade featuring distinctive two-story Gothic arches that overlook a sweeping front lawn and face onto Harvard Avenue.
Directed by Lisa Wilson, Angels in America II: Perestroika features, in addition to Rooney, student actors Helen Wallace, Quintin Jones, James Hefner, Chase Huffman, Chase Wheaton-Werle, Katie Martin, Alixe Ward, Alexandra Poole, Ken Leep-Sills, Keith Daniels, Caitlin Krohn, Justin Blankenship and Andrea Smith.
Performances are at 7pm Thursday, Oct. 6; Friday, Oct. 7; and Saturday, Oct. 8 and at 2pm Sunday, Oct. 9. Tickets are $5 for TU faculty and students, $10 for area students and senior citizens, and $15 for non-student adults. They're available online at myticketoffice.com or by calling the Lorton Performance Center box office at 918-631-2567.
In the beginning
Also this weekend, The Playhouse Tulsa presents The Origins Project, a weekend festival of staged readings of new American plays. Five playwrights from around the country will bring their unique and diverse stories to the Playhouse
Tulsa stage. These works are offered in a readers' theater format prepared by some of the finest actors in Tulsa, and directed by Chris Crawford and Courtneay Sanders artistic directors of The Playhouse Tulsa.
Four of the five playwrights will be on hand to discuss their plays and encourage audience feedback after each reading.
From a Galveston bar in the days before the arrival of Hurricane Ike, to a life altering plane ride, to a series of vignettes about love and loss, the plays of The Origins Project will challenge, inspire, excite and entertain.
Featured playwrights include David Stallings (Maieutic Theatre Works, New York), Jacqueline Goldfinger (InterAct Theatre's Playwrights Forum, Philadelphia), Cody Daigle (AUI & On the Square, Louisiana & New York) Christopher Martin (Oral Roberts University, Tulsa) and Cody Shelton (The Playhouse Tulsa).
All readings take place in the Liddy Doenges Theatre of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 110 E. Second St. On Oct. 6 at 7:20pm, actors will read short plays by Christopher Martin and Cody Shelton. On Oct. 7 at 7:30pm: The Oath by Jacqueline Goldfinger; on Oct. at 2pm: Providence by Cody Daigle; and on Oct. 8 at 7:30pm: Barrier Island by David Stallings (this play is recommended for mature audiences).
Tickets are $15 for each reading or $40 for a festival pass and are available at tulsapac.com.
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