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Local ensemble takes huge risks with gritty production

Roseville City Production Dynamics present award-winning "Angels in America."
By: Josh Fernandez The Press Tribune
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It’s 1985. Regan’s in office. AIDS is ravaging the country. And God has left the building. “Angels in America,” a play about shame, faith, addiction and love – the complex, unhealthy and beautiful kind – is making its way to Roseville, ready or not. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play written by Tony Kushner will be performed locally by the small (but brave) Roseville City Production Dynamics ensemble. Set in New York, “Angels in America” tells the story of two very different couples whose only substantial similarity is a deeply troubled life. Joe (played by Tyler Robinson) is a Mormon legal clerk whose wife Harper (Katherine Coppola) is so addicted to Valium that she experiences grand hallucinations and manic episodes. Joe’s mentor, McCarthyist lawyer Roy Cohn (Rob Hayes), encourages him to take a job in Washington, which would mean abandoning drug-addled Harper. Meanwhile, Prior Walter (David Garrison) – a man who experiences heavenly visions – tells his lover Louis (Kyle Stampfli) that he’s dying from AIDS. The production, jam packed with heady themes, offers penetrating insight into the human condition. “Angels in America” is both difficult and poignant, but never heavy-handed. In fact, many of the most horrific scenes are handled with brash, sidesplitting comedy that blurs the lines between uproarious laughter and all-out weeping. David Garrison, who directed the Roseville show (and also plays Prior), is excited about the politically charged production, but isn’t quite sure if a Roseville audience is ready for the thought-provoking material. “We’ve been doing shows for about a year now and our audience is definitely an underground of younger people, but we’ve also reached out to Sacramento and the gay community,” he said. “They’ve given us a lot of support.” He continues, “Roseville audience members might not make it past the first act.” So, instead of taking it as a slight, Garrison’s statement should be a challenge. It’s a tough play, complex in its ideas and messages, but Roseville is certainly ready. “It’s almost more relevant now than when it was written,” Garrison said. “If an audience member decides to stick it through, I think it will be better for them.” Garrison would like to see a great turnout for the show, especially because 75 percent of ticket sales go directly to Sacramento CARES Foundation, an organization that provides comprehensive HIV/AIDS care to area residents. The seven-hour play is split into two parts, which means that to view the whole production you must attend two separate showings. Josh Fernandez can be reached at joshf@goldcountrymedia.com