CTL presents ‘Angels in America’ as a virtual staged reading
Since closing its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community Theatre League has been innovating virtual outlets for local theatre performers. From Friday evening “CTL at Home” concerts, to a virtual education studio through the Community Academy of Stage and Theatre, the Community Theatre League has been working to keep audiences and performers engaged with theatre.
On Saturday, CTL will present its next venture — a virtual staged reading of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Angels in America,” which takes place in New York during the height of the AIDS epidemic. In the show, a gay man is abandoned by his lover when he contracts the AIDS virus, and a closeted Mormon lawyer’s marriage to his pill-popping wife stalls. Other characters include the infamous McCarthy-ite lawyer Roy Cohn, Ethel Rosenberg, a former drag queen who works as a nurse, and an angel.
Directed by Philip J. Vonada, the cast features some of the Community Theatre League’s favorite performers and volunteers. The cast includes Kyle Wilson (Louis Ironson), Aaron White (Prior Walter), Keith Wagner (Roy Cohn), Bridget Murphy (Harper Pitt), Nicholas Fischer (Joe Pitt), Isaiah Inch (Belize) and features Nancy Butts, Susan Guinter, Fred Hooper, Jason Kriner, Clay Samuels and Amy Straub.
“It’s been a unique challenge and opportunity,” Vonada says, “To bring together performers from New York, Lancaster, and all over the Susquehanna River Valley has been really fun — these performances might not have ever had the chance to work together. Thanks to teleconferencing, we are able to rehearse almost as though we are in the same room. However, we are forced to rely solely on the language of the script – which is rich and beautiful and complicated — and not the physical action of the show. These actors are working to elevate the language and really make the dynamics of the characters in the show come to life.”
The performance includes a disclaimer: “‘Angels in America’ is a Pulitzer Prize winning drama about the AIDS epidemic and its impact on the homosexual community. It contains adult language and themes including graphic discussions of sexual activity. It is intended for mature audiences only.”
“When it premiered in the early ’90s, Kushner was not shy about including the graphic, frank information about ways in which AIDS was contracted, and how it was non-discriminatory in attacking people of all classes. Though we have learned much about HIV/AIDS in the ensuing years, this play is still relevant in many ways, and really crosses boundaries that many people may find uncomfortable. I’m really proud of CTL for putting this out in the world,” Vonda said.
The one-time performance will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday. There is a cost and tickets can be purchased at ctlshows.com to view the private performance.
“Angels in America” is produced with assistance from AIDS Resource.