Thursday, March 28, 2013

'Perestroika': The 'Angels' story continues at EPAC

Amy Carter and Adam Newborn in EPAC's "Angels in America." Part 2 of this two-part play opens tonight, March 28, at the Sharadin Bigler Theatre.


The raves couldn’t have been louder for Ephrata Performing Arts Center’s “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches” earlier this month.

Media critics and audience members were generous with their praise for the production’s cast, crew and creative team. But the story isn’t over; that same team will continue Tony Kushner’s award-winning story with “Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika,” which opens tonight, Thursday, March 28, at the Sharadin Bigler Theatre in Ephrata.

We are so fortunate, here in Lancaster County, to have a theater company like EPAC to bring us both parts of this groundbreaking play in the same month. This show truly matches EPAC’s mission of presenting “theater that matters.”

The cast, crew and creative team have worked hard to bring you these two full evenings of theater that tell one compelling, humorous and challenging story, set in the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

At the end of Part 1, The Angel crashed into Prior Walter’s life as he was dealing with his lover’s abandonment and his deteriorating health condition. Part 2 starts where Part 1 left off, and picks up the threads of its characters’ ongoing struggles and conflicts. The action continues in settings ranging from a park in Brooklyn to a hospital room, and from Heaven to a living diorama at a Mormon Visitor Center.

If you’re anxious to learn what happened to the characters from the first half of “Angels,” well, all our friends from Part 1 are back: Joe, Prior, Louis, Belize, Roy Cohn, Hannah, The Angel, Mrs. Pitt and others.

Joe’s mother will come to the rescue of the fragile Hannah. Conflict and reconciliation hover over the Prior-Louis-Joe triangle. Roy Cohn rages against the dying of the light. And the foreboding of Part 1 yields to the optimism and hope of Part 2.

Even if you missed Part 1, you DON’T want to miss part 2; it’s your last chance to experience Kushner’s stellar writing brought to life by a talented cast right here in Ephrata.

Visit the EPAC web site, or call (717) 733-7966 for tickets. The show runs through Saturday, April 6.

If you come to the show tonight (Thursday, March 28), bring your ticket for to the Olde Lincoln House, 1398 W. Main St., Ephrata, to celebrate with the cast and crew at the opening-night party.

Thanks, again to Alder Health Services for their sponsorship of both parts of “Angels in America.” There would, literally, have been no “Angels” without these angels!!


Tickets are still available for Suzanne Westenhoefer’s hilarious comedy concert on Friday, April 12, at the Sharadin Bigler Theatre.

Your $35 ticket includes the show, a wine-and-cheese reception and a meet-and-greet with Suzanne. This nationally known comic, who talks about the joys and disappointments of her life and relationships – including her life as an out-and-proud lesbian – will have you holding your sides; her previous appearances at EPAC have had audiences crying from laughing so hard.

Have a great time, and support EPAC, all in one fantastic evening.
Visit the web site to order tickets, or call (717) 733-7966.There will be more on Suzanne in the next blog post.

Thanks for supporting EPAC!

-- Merv Wright

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

'Angels in America' soars at EPAC

Kristie Ohlinger is The Angel, and Daniel Green portrays Prior Walter, in EPAC's production of  "Angels in America." Part 1 of this two-part play
 opens Thursday, March 7.


You’ve probably heard of “Angels in America.” But if you haven’t seen HBO’s TV miniseries, and if you haven’t had the opportunity to see the play, you may not know what it’s about.

What IS this important, provocative, adult play about? That’s both a simple and a complex question to answer. It’s a question I pondered as I watched part of a rehearsal of EPAC’s production of “Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches” at the Sharadin Bigler Theatre earlier this week.

The show, set in 1985, is about two New York couples struggling within their relationships. Connections arise between the two couples as the play progresses.
Mormons Joe and Harper Pitt have been sharing a somewhat-committed, yet passionless, marriage. Both are keeping important secrets.

Gay couple Louis Ironson and Prior Walter struggle with Prior’s advancing case of AIDS. The play takes place, after all, in the bad old days of the epidemic – when AZT was experimental and the drug cocktail that’s saved so many lives was unheard of.

Prior and Harper are guest stars in each other’s hallucinations; he’s sick, and she takes pills. 

Other characters interact with these four – including Roy Cohn (of McCarthyism fame), a doctor, a couple of nurses, a mom and a rabbi.

Director Ed Fernandez has assembled a great cast to bring all these characters to life at EPAC.

But the play is also about love, loss, sexuality, personal responsibility, politics, moral choices, self-realization, self-awareness and so much more. It’s heartbreaking at times, and hilarious at others.

This Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play features the fabulous writing of Tony Kushner, Oscar-nominated for the film “Lincoln.” When you watch EPAC’s production of “Angels in America,” you’ll know why Daniel Day-Lewis said he felt bereft of Kushner’s words when filming wrapped.

A great playwright takes you intimately into the lives of his characters while making you think deeply about the larger issues they face.

And Tony Kushner is a great playwright.

Be ready to be both entertained and challenged when you come to see “Angels in America,” which will be presented by EPAC in two parts during the next month. Part 1, “Millennium Approaches,” opens Thursday and runs through March 16; Part 2, “Perestroika,” runs from March 28-April 6.

Please note that the play contains strong language and adult themes; this is a play for grown-ups!

Remember: You can still buy a full subscription for the season through the end of the run of “Millennium Approaches.” If you buy tickets to both Parts 1 and 2, through the box office, at the same time, you’ll get a half-price discount on your ticket to Part 2.

Visit the website for information, or call (717) 733-7966 for information.

Thanks to our generous “Angels in America” sponsor, Alder Health Services. Thanks, also, to our season sponsor, Green Mountain Cyclery and the Farrington family, and our season media sponsor, Blue Ridge Communications.

Thanks, too, to Lily’s on Main for hosting the opening-night party on March 7 for “Millennium Approaches,” and to The Olde Lincoln House for the “Perestroika” opening-night party on March 28. Your ticket to an opening-night performance is also your ticket to the party.


Nationally known comedian SuzanneWestenhoefer, a native of Columbia, PA, returns to the Sharadin Bigler Theatre for another raucous night of comedy at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 12.

Her shows sell out fast, so be sure to order your $35 tickets now! Your ticket includes a wine-and-cheese reception with this comedy-club headliner after the show.
Westenhoefer’s show is for grown-ups, too! Boy, is it ever! But if you're a grown-up who doesn't mind "going there" with Suzanne ... your face will hurt from laughing.
Click here to order, or call the box office at (717) 733-7966.

-- M. Wright