To realize just how relevant Tony Kushner’s, “Angels in America,” is in today’s society is shocking! But what may be even more incredible is the actors’ ability to bring this profound story to life in ways that moved the soul and opened our minds.

The Ohio Northern University’s Theater Program presented the first part of this award-winning play from Sept. 28 through Oct. 1 with a total of five performances.

The cast was composed of only eight actors with some playing multiple roles. The amount of time dedicated to this 3-hour show is undoubtedly mind-boggling. Anyone who has ever been a part of theater knows that a cast this small can get close and personal, which is what I believe attributed to such strong character presence from beginning to end. It only makes sense.

The interactions between characters were so believable and natural because the actors’ relationships were so strong. Anyone in the audience should have felt that interpersonal connection between the actors and the characters they were portraying.

The play, set in the 1980’s during the AIDS epidemic, handles
difficult societal issue regarding religion, politics, sexuality and drug addiction that not only require the actors to acknowledge such hardships, but also share these struggles and painful stories with an audience that is primarily composed of peers, friends and family members.

Eight actors took the stage to unravel the complex lives impacted by these societal issues, and that alone is an
impressive feat.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the show was the theater
itself. Stambaugh Theater, located in the Freed Center for Performing Arts, is a 132-seat studio theatre with a stage surrounded by three sections of seating. The stage is small, leaving little room for complex scenery and, for the actors, room to breathe.

But I think that’s what made this performance so powerful and personal. I felt closer to the actors, and the emotion behind their words, their phrasing and their movements seemed more intentional and clear. The audience could see the facial expressions—the sorrow, the joy and the fear. The tone, inflection and volume, as with any performance, must be exaggerated. In a larger theater, this is necessary as audience members are farther away from the stage. It was fantastic
to see the actors continue this practice despite being in a smaller setting. The power behind the performance was very indicative of their par- ticular attention to basic acting principles.

The performance was flawless! The lighting was beautiful, the acting was on point and the entire perfor- mance was thought-provoking—the true testament of a well executed play. The next time you’re in class, look around and see if one of your
classmates is one of these extraordinary actors. Congratulate them on a job well done. And commend them for handling such demanding roles about difficult topics in such a complex story that sheds light on one of history’s darkest hours. These actors are our angels in America.

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