Kansas City Repertory Theatre has announced the cast for one of its most ambitious undertakings — Tony Kushner’s Pulitizer Prize-winnng “Angels in America,” an epic work of two full-length plays that together comprise a viewing experience of about six hours.
The Rep plans to present the two parts —“Millennium Approaches” and “Perestroika” — in repertory beginning Feb. 20. Director David Cromer, who staged the Rep’s production of “Our Town” in September, has assembled an impressive cast of Kansas City-based actors and out-of-town performers.
The work has been staged locally only once before, in 1996 at the Unicorn Theatre. Kushner’s piece examines spiritual issues, morality and hardcore politics set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis during the Reagan administration. Characters include conflicted Mormons, old Bolsheviks, hallucinogenic apparitions and the lawyer Roy Cohn.
The actors and their principal roles include:
▪ Jessiee Datino as Harper Pitt. Datino was formerly based in Kansas City, where she performed in “Romeo and Juliet” for the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival” as well as “Talley’s Folly” and “Talley and Son” for Kansas City Actors Studio. Other credits include off-Broadway productions of “The Late Christopher Bean” and “SIN.”
▪ Claybourne Elder as Joe Pitt. Elder has been seen at KC Rep in “Into the Woods,” “Cabaret,” and “Pippin”. In 2014 appeared in an off-Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Allegro” and a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park With George” in Washington D.C.
▪ Jennifer Engstrom as the Angel. Engstrom has performed extensively in Chicago and has appeared off-Broadway as well as in numerous regional productions. This is her Rep debut.
▪ Peggy Friesen as Hannah Pitt. Friesen is one of Kansas City’s best actresses and has performed in scores of productions at virtually every theater company in town. Most recently was seen as Mrs. Soames in “Our Town,” directed by Cromer at the Rep. She has also appeared in “The Mousetrap” and “The Cripple of Inishmann” for Kansas City Actors Theatre; “Wit” and “Spinning into Butter” at the Unicorn and “The Dinner Party” and “Little Foxes” at the American Heartland Theatre.
▪ Nik Kourtis as Louis Ironson. This is his Rep debut. His New York credits include “The Austerity of Hope” (the Barrow Group Theatre Company); “All My Sons” (Center Stage Playhouse); and “America: A Problem Play” (On the Square Productions).
▪ Seamus Mulcahy as Prior Walter. He has appeared off-Broadway in Cromer’s production of “Our Town” and has numerous regional theater credits, including Pasadena Playhouse, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Yale Repertory Theatre and Paper Mill Playhouse. This is his Rep debut.
▪ Mark Robbins as Roy Cohn. Robbins is among the city’s most versatile actors, having appeared in productions at the Rep, the Unicorn Theatre, the American Heartland, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival and Kansas City Actors Theatre, of which he was a founding member. Notable performances include the title roles in “Richard III,” “Oedipus the King,” “Macbeth” and “Titus Andronicus.”
▪ Paul Oakley Stovall as Belize. Stovall appeared at the Rep in “Metamorphoses” and has performed at Lincoln Center, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the Phoenix Theatre and in national tours of “Rent” and “Once on This Island.”
For information on tickets, call 816-235-2700 or visit www.kcrep.org.