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Angels in America Returns to the Big Apple

By Warren Tong

October 26, 2010

Angels in America, the landmark two-part play by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner about being gay and living with HIV/AIDS in the pre-antiretroviral era, is coming back to New York City. It's the play's first appearance in the Big Apple since its original 1993-94 run on Broadway, where it won the Tony Award for best actor (Ron Leibman), best featured actor (Stephen Spinella), best director (Kushner) and best play. In 2003, it was adapted into an HBO miniseries starring Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, which went on to win a then-record 11 Primetime Emmys.

To commemorate the influential play's Oct. 28 off-Broadway homecoming, Patrick Healy from The New York Times asked heavy hitters in film and Broadway to share their thoughts about the play's impact on themselves and society. For distinguished playwright Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife), the play made the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic relatable for everybody:

"What Tony did was write a play where being gay was a metaphor for the whole human experience. He conveyed that we all experience injustice and persecution, and the characters in 'Angels' just happened to experience these things because they were gay."

And for Oscar winner Mike Nichols, director of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Graduate, the play expanded the very definition of drama:

"It replaced drama's traditional family -- unhappy parents, unhappy teens -- with a group of friends bound by love and illness, who became their own family. It changed the way I saw characters. We saw kindness on stage for once. We were reminded that love means wanting a person to be his or her best self."

If you are in New York City and would like to see the play, it is running off-Broadway at the Signature Theatre Company. Get tickets from now until Feb. 20, 2011.

How has Angels in America affected you since it first appeared on stage and screen? Sound off in the comments section below!

Warren Tong is the research editor for and

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