NEPA Scene Staff

Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre explores homosexuality in the ’80s with ‘Angels in America’ June 3-12

Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre explores homosexuality in the ’80s with ‘Angels in America’ June 3-12
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From a press release:

The Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre will present the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play “Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches” beginning Friday, June 3 and running through Sunday, June 12.

Written by American playwright Tony Kushner, the three-act play contains multiple storylines and largely explores homosexuality and AIDS during the 1980s.

“’Angels in America’ takes a look at relationship dynamics and how the HIV/AIDS virus was initially viewed,” said Eric Lutz, who plays one of the lead roles, Prior Walter, a gay man who has AIDS. “It is a poignant and powerful drama about love and redemption.”

Director Dave Reynolds describes the drama as something unlike most plays typically seen in the area.

“It deals with deeply American themes such as democracy, religion, love, betrayal, sexuality, just to name a few, but it does so in a rich an vibrant landscape that plays with the nature of reality and dreams.”

“Angels in America” opens at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 3 at the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre (537 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre). Additional shows are at 8 p.m. on June 4, 10, and 11, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 5 and 12. A special “talk back” with Sean Strub, author of “Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS and Survival,” will take place following the Sunday, June 5 matinee.

The play is an emotional one and forces its cast members to sometimes explore uncharted territories. Mandy Pennington plays Harper Pitt, an agoraphobic, Valium-addicted Mormon housewife who must deal – or not deal – with her husband coming to terms with his sexual identity.

“Harper is such a layered character, so having the opportunity to play her has challenged me to tap into some darker emotions,” Pennington said. “I’m a pretty big optimist, so her personality is very different from mine. However, I think I can relate to her as a woman – she feels pressures that are very real for all women.

“To prepare myself for the role, I’ve spent some time really thinking about Harper’s thought process and trying to understand her fears. … I’ve also prepared for the role by doing a lot of reading about the context of her situation – her faith, what was happening at the time, and her phobias.”

Tickets for “Angels in America” are $17 and can be purchased at the Little Theatre box office or online via Ticketfly.

“This is not the type of play that you simply enjoy,” Reynolds said. “This play moves you on a deeply human level and asks you, the audience member, to really examine yourself and our society.”

Photo by On My Cue Photography