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'Angels in America: Perestroika' opens Friday at Corn Stock

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Not all theaters quickly follow a production of "Angels in America: The Millennium Approaches" with its sequel.

Corn Stock Theatre's Winter Playhouse is not like most other theaters and so it seemed natural to produce "Angels in America: Perestroika" only months after the first one, said Dani Keil, who said it has been a pleasure to be able to direct both parts.

"I am really excited artistically that Corn Stock followed up right away with part two because it helps with the continuation of the story. It picks up the same night part one ends and carries our characters through the next five years, up to 1990," Keil said.

angels-0031Jacob Uhlman continues in the role of Prior in "Angels in America: Perestroika""Audiences will get to see what transpires with these characters without a long gap. I think that's important."

"Angels in America" was written by Tony Kushner and tells the story of people caught up in the AIDS crisis in 1985 to 1990 and how society responded to it. It was presented the Pulitzer Prize in 1993.

"Angels in America: Perestroika" opens Friday night at Corn Stock's Winter Playhouse in Upper Bradley Park. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11 and 12, and the following Friday and Saturday, Nov. 18 and 19.

There will be a 2:30 p.m. performance on Sunday, Nov. 13, after which there will be a "talk back" session with the cast and with Central Illinois Friends of PWA.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students. They can be ordered by calling the Corn Stock box office at (309) 676-2196 or at www.cornstocktheatre.com.

Keil was able to retain half of her original cast. They include Jacob Uhlman, whose performance as Prior Walter in the first show drew high praise from audiences; Clark Rians as Roy Cohn; Eric Gore as Belize and Becky Clifton as Hannah Pitt and other characters, including Ethel Rosenberg.angels-009Becky Clifton in her portrayal of the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg.

Newcomers to the cast are Aaron Hoover and Sarah Tilford as Joe and Harper Pitt, Andrew Rhodenbaugh as Louis Ironson and Natalie Patrnchak as The Angel.

It is a long show with intense drama but Keil said the story remains important today as it was when Tony Kushner wrote both pieces more than 20 years ago. This is the 20th anniversary of the premier of "Angels in America" on a stage in San Francisco, in the fall of 1991.

"This is still a very important piece. I feel it is still current for several reasons, including that our country is in political turmoil right now and gay rights are making huge leaps forward. I have loved this show since I first read it in college and the way the writer presents personal and political issues in very creative ways," she said.

Keil said "Perestroika" was written in five acts and will be presented by Corn Stock in three acts. She described it as more chaotic than "Millennium Approaches" and most of the story line is resolved by the end. She added there is still some question as to what becomes of one character.

There is humor in the drama, as well, and Keil said she hopes audiences will realize the positive message that is a continual theme throughout the show. "I want the audience to see there is joy in life as it spins forward. There is joy in living. That is an important message," she said.

Paul Gordon is editor of The Peorian. He can be reached at 692-7880 or at editor@thepeorian.com.

 

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).