Preview of ‘Angels in America’ at The Rep Sept. 4 – Oct. 6

“Angels in America” hits The Rep next week, running Sept. 4 through Oct. 6. Here is a preview of the production, as the elements are coming together to create the epic season opener.

This singular theatrical experience is going to blow audiences away, The Rep says, noting it is an exciting time because it begins Hana S. Sharif’s first season as artistic director.

 “Angels in America is one of the most iconic and revolutionary plays in the American Theatre,” said Hana S. Sharif, The Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director. “I am incredibly proud that this extraordinary group of artists has assembled to embark upon the epic journey into Tony Kushner’s most brilliant and essential work of art.”

Headlining the cast are Meredith Baxter (Family Ties, All the President’s Men) as Hannah, Barrett Foa (NCIS: Los Angeles) as Prior Walter and Peter Frechette (Thirtysomething) as Roy Cohn.

A towering epic that unveils new depths with each passing year, Tony Kushner’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece arrives on The Rep’s stage for the first time. The AIDS epidemic is the flashpoint in Kushner’s swirling tapestry of American culture, myths and spirituality. Navigating this maelstrom are Prior Walter, whose prophetic visions lead him toward an uncertain destiny, Joe Pitt, a devout and painfully closeted Mormon, and Roy Cohn, a lawyer whose AIDS diagnosis forces him to face a lifetime of misdeeds. These twin plays’ vision of a wounded and chaotic nation struggling toward redemption is more urgent than ever.

 Featuring Kushner’s revised script that fueled acclaimed revivals on Broadway and London’s West End, The Rep will present both parts of Angels in America in a rotating “rep” schedule throughout the run. That will include special marathon days with both parts performed back-to-back.

Tickets for the production and season packages are on sale at repstl.org, or by calling The Rep box office at 314-968-4925. There is a special deal for purchasing both Parts 1 and 2.

The Story

Playwright Tony Kushner began the process of conceiving Angels when he worked at The Rep in the ’80s. The play has gone on to garner multiple awards as a game-changing piece of art.

The Characters

The play is filled with iconic characters, including Prior Walter, whose mystical journey lies at the center of the play. Featuring a stellar cast led by Barrett Foa (NCIS: Los Angeles), Meredith Baxter (Family Ties) and Peter Frechette (Thirtysomething), it’s shaping up to be a monumental production of Tony Kushner’s legendary opus.

The principal characters

Here is the cast:

Meredith Baxter (Hannah) has been an actress for 49 years. She starred in five television series, including the long-running Family Ties. Baxter has been nominated for four Emmys and made about 60 movies for television. Her theatre credits include The Vagina Monologues, Talley’s Folley and Guys and Dolls. Baxter and her Family Ties co-star Michael Gross recently reunited for an acclaimed touring production of A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters.

Barrett Foa (Prior Walter) is best known as tech geek Eric Beale on all 11 seasons (and counting) of the hit CBS crime drama/comedy NCIS: Los Angeles. During his hiatuses from NCIS: LA, Barrett starred in the one-man multi-character off-Broadway hit comedy Buyer & Cellar, was nominated for an LA Ovation Award for his portrayal of Oscar in Sweet Charity at Reprise 2.0 and starred, co-wrote, and produced the sold-out hit For The Record: John Hughes in LA and NYC. Foa has also starred on Broadway in the Tony-winning musicals Avenue Q, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Mamma Mia! (original cast).

Peter Frechette (Roy Cohn) is a two-time Tony Award nominee (Eastern Standard and Our Country’s Good), and received an Emmy nomination for his guest role in the seminal TV series Thirtysomething. His film performances include roles in Spike Lee’s Inside Man and Miracle at St. Anna. In recent years, Frechette has been a frequent performer at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and South Coast Repertory in Coast Mesa, Calif.

Ben Cherry (Louis) has appeared in acclaimed Broadway productions of Indecent and Fiddler on the Roof, as well as the national tour of Mary Poppins. His TV credits include appearances on Smash and The Following. In the world of regional theatre, Cherry has starred in productions at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Utah Shakespeare Festival and Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

Jayson Speters (Joe Pitt) served as a professional acting apprentice at Actors Theatre of Louisville, appearing in multiple productions – including Actors Theatre’s nationally renowned Humana Festival of New American Plays. Other credits include The Legend of Georgia McBride at Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and Hulu’s The Path.

Valeri Mudek (Harper Pitt) was part of the original cast and two subsequent productions of Tiny Kushner, a collection of short plays from Tony Kushner. She appeared as a recurring character on Netflix’s The OA, along with guest appearances on Law and Order: SVU and ABC’s Forever. Mudek got her start at Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater, appearing in productions such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Uncle Vanya.

David Ryan Smith (Belize) was part of the original Broadway cast of One Man, Two Guvnors. He’s also appeared in Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival and acted as part of Public Theater’s Mobile Shakespeare Unit in New York City. Recent Off-Broadway credits include Passage and Mankind.

Gina Daniels (The Angel) returns to The Rep after appearing in 2018’s Born Yesterday. Daniels most recently appeared in the 2019 Broadway production of Network. A company member at Oregon Shakespeare Festival for more than a decade, she originated the roles of Coretta Scott King and Fannie Lou Hamer in OSF’s original production of All the Way.

The set by Tim Mackabee. Photo by Peter Wochniak/ProPhotoSTL

The Set

Anchored by a massive, hand-painted graffiti wall, the Timothy Mackabee-designed Angels set will constantly evolve to transport audiences from New York to Antarctica to Heaven and beyond.

The Costumes

Multiple award-winning costume designer Dede Ayite has created a stunning look for the play’s angel (which you can preview above), and sharp, 1980s-period outfits for the rest of the characters.

 The creative team:

 Tony Speciale (director) is the founder of Plastic Theatre—conceiving, co-authoring and directing the world premiere of Unnatural Acts (Classic Stage Company—Drama Desk Award nominee, GLAAD Media Award nominee). Most recently, Tony served as artistic director of Abingdon Theatre Company, a 26-year old Off-Broadway theatre company dedicated to developing and producing new American work. His Off-Broadway directing credits include The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey (Dixon Place, Westside Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Classic Stage Company) and The Boy Who Danced On Air (Abingdon Theatre Company). Take a closer look at his credits at http://tonyspeciale.com/.

 Timothy Mackabee (scenic designer) has designed sets for productions on Broadway, London’s West End, Off-Broadway and all over America’s regional theatre scene. He created production designs for Amy Schumer’s “Live at the Apollo” special, as well as the Mike Tyson’s one-man show, “Undisputed Truth.” His designs have appeared locally in Muny productions of My Fair Lady, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Mamma Mia! and more. Mackabee also served as the associate scenic designer for the blockbuster Broadway adaptation of Disney’s Frozen. View his set design work at http://www.timothymackabeedesign.com/.

Dede Ayite’s costume design sketch for the Angel.

 Dede Ayite (costume designer) has designed sets and costumes for both theatre and film. She is an Obie and Lucille Lortel Award winner, as well as a four-time Drama Desk Award nominee. Her most recent Broadway credits include American Son and Children of a Lesser God, in addition to Off-Broadway productions of By the Way Meet Vera Stark, Slave Play and The Royale. Ayite has a BA in theatre and behavioral neuroscience from Lehigh University and an MFA in design from the Yale School of Drama.

 Xavier Pierce (lighting designer) has created designs for the Public Theater in New York City (White Noise), Steppenwolf Theatre Company (The Roommate), Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Othello and Shakespeare in Love), Guthrie Theater (Native Gardens, Harvey and Blithe Spirit), Seattle Repertory Theatre (Nina Simone: Four Women) and the Hana Sharif-directed Fun Home at Baltimore Center Stage. He is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with an MFA in Design for Stage and Film.

 Broken Chord (composer and sound designer) designs sound and composes music for theater, film, and dance. Their Broadway credits include The Parisian Woman and Eclipsed, along with numerous other NYC and regional theatre productions. Broken Chord previously worked at The Rep in 2011 as sound designer and composer for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Other regional company credits include Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Arena Stage. See their resume and listen to samples at http://brokenchord.us/.

 Alex Basco Koch (projections designer) has designed projections for plays, musicals, films and immersive art events, his work seen on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in regional theaters across the US, and in Central and South America and Europe. Recent credits include projections for the viral hit musical Be More Chill, Fireflies (2019 Lucille Lortel Award nominee) and the opening title sequence for Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead. View samples of his projections at https://www.alexbascokoch.com/

The Rep’s production of Angels in America: Parts One and Two is sponsored by Emerson.

Single tickets for the production are now on sale. Season ticket packages are currently on sale online or by calling The Rep’s box office at 314-968-4925.

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