The professional theater-in-residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will present both plays comprising the contemporary masterpiece, Part 1 “Millennium Approaches” and Part 2 “Perestroika,” running in rotating repertory.

The two plays combine in a sweeping exploration of America during the first wave of what became the AIDS epidemic, set against the backdrop of the Reagan era, and taking place in New York, Utah and Heaven among other locales. The central stories of two couples, one gay and the other nominally straight, interweave with a parade of characters from Roy Cohn to Ethel Rosenberg, a Hassidic rabbi to a Mormon mother, and a visitation by an angelic messenger.

The New York Times lauded “Angels in America” as “exhilaration for the heart, mind and eyes…not merely mind-bending: at times mind exploding” and called it a “vast, miraculous play.” Newsweek called “Angels” “the broadest, deepest, most searching American play of our time.”  Both plays not only garnered Tony Awards for Best Play, but “Millennium Approaches” was also awarded the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

“These are among the most important plays of the last 50 years, and together they form a soaring theatrical epic by one of America’s most visionary playwrights,” said PlayMakers producing artistic director Joseph Haj.  “In a time when AIDS has become a silent pandemic, and gay marriage, gay bashing, and discussion of our government’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy fill the news, Kushner’s masterworks are as relevant today as when they debuted in the 1990s.”
 
Show times will be 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Saturdays (except Jan. 29) and Sundays (except Jan. 30, which is at 7:30 p.m.) There are three opportunities to see both plays back-to-back on Feb. 5 and 26 and March 5. On these dates, Part 1 will be performed at 2 p.m. and Part 2 at 7:30 p.m. Boxed dinners from Whole Foods Market will be available for purchase. Pre-ordering dinner when purchasing show tickets is recommended.

All performances will be in the Paul Green Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. Tickets are $10 to $45. With the purchase of a ticket to Part 1, a ticket to Part 2 may also be purchased at 25 percent off. This offer cannot be combined with other discounts or offers.

For a performance schedule, to purchase tickets and to learn about community activities scheduled throughout the run, call (919) 962-PLAY (7529) or visit www.playmakersrep.org.

PlayMakers will exhibit four panels from the celebrated AIDS Memorial Quilt in the theater’s lobby during the production. The 12 x 12 foot sections honor 30 individuals, including Roy Cohn, who is given a fictionalized portrayal in “Angels.”  Established in 1987, The NAMES Project Foundation, international caretaker of the quilt, works to preserve, care for and use the quilt to foster healing, advance social justice and inspire action. The quilt began in San Francisco more than 20 years ago with a single 3 x 6 foot panel. Today this epic tapestry of hope and love includes more than 47,000 panels from every state in the nation, created by friends, lovers and family members of those lost to AIDS/HIV.

On Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m. PlayMakers will host “The Vision Series: Directors in Conversation” with “Angels” director Brendon Fox, who also directed last year’s acclaimed season opener, “Opus.” Joining him will be “Angels” scenic designer Narelle Sissons and costume designer Jan Chambers.

“The Vision Series” is free and open to the public. Theater-goers and others interested in the creative process are invited to the Paul Green Theatre to share wine, coffee and other refreshments, along with a behind-the-scenes preview of the production. Reservations are encouraged. Call PlayMakers’ box office at 919.962.7529 to RSVP.

Other special events during “Angels in America” will include:
 
• “In the Wings,” a series created by PlayMakers and the Durham County Library. Director Fox and cast members discuss the play at the Main Library, 300 N. Roxboro St., downtown Durham, on Jan. 10 at 7 p.m.;
• a program with the director and company members at McIntyre’s Books, Fearrington Village, Pittsboro, on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m.;
• preview performances Jan. 29 through Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m.;
• opening day, Feb. 5. Part 1 will be performed at 2 p.m. and Part 2 at 7:30 p.m. with a complimentary gala party after the evening show;
• free post-show discussions with members of the “Angels” creative team (designers, actors and production personnel) on Feb. 27 and March 3;
• “The Prologue Series,” created by PlayMakers and the Chapel Hill Library, a pre-show conversation at the library with a member of the PlayMakers creative team at noon on Feb. 12 (Part 1) and Feb. 19 (Part 2.) The library in off Estes Drive near East Franklin Street on Library Drive.
• free post-show “Mindplay” discussions sponsored by the North Carolina Psychoanalytic Society on March 5 after the 7:30 p.m. show and March 6 after the 2 p.m. show; and
• all-access performances for attendees with special needs, with sign language interpretation and audio description, on Feb. 22 (Part 1) and March 1 (Part 2.) For more information or to register, call (919) 962-PLAY (7529).

“Angels in America” playwright Tony Kushner will appear at UNC at 7 p.m. April 10 at Memorial Hall. The free program will feature Kushner in conversation with PlayMakers producing artistic director Joseph Haj. Kushner will be this semester’s Frey Foundation Distinguished Visiting Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. For information call (919) 843-6339.

PlayMakers’ Mainstage season finale will be the company’s first musical in more than a decade, “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (April 6-24.) The theater’s PRC2 second stage series will conclude with Joan Didion’s stage adaptation of her award-winning memoir “The Year of Magical Thinking” (April 27-May 1.) 

UNC-TV is co-producing sponsor for the PlayMakers production of “Angels in America.”

PlayMakers is based in the College of Arts and Sciences. The Drama League of New York has named PlayMakers one of the best regional theaters in America.

Coverage note: Media are welcome to cover “The Vision Series” preview by director Brendon Fox at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19 in the Center for Dramatic Art. Photography, videography, lights and flashes are not restricted. For assistance, call (919) 428-1744.
PlayMakers contact: Connie Mahan, (919) 428-1744, cmahan@email.unc.edu