This is not a new story. Tony Kushner won the Pulitzer in 1993 for writing Angels In America, which was later made into a mini-series on HBO (2003) and now it has spread its wings back on Broadway.
Knowing this history, the audience is prepared for the length of this production, which is told in two-parts… you can see it on consecutive nights, or part one at the matinee, part two in the evening… I chose the latter.
Those around me all had a game plan, after all, we would be in our seats for close to 8 hours that day, with the first play just over three and a half hours… (1-4:45) a few hour break, and then back for the second play for just over 4 hours (7-11:15).
I was excited about this; and it felt like now was the perfect time to revisit this story. The cast was compelling, with Nathan Lane playing Roy Cohn and Andrew Garfield playing Pryor Walter; roles they had both played at its run at the National Theater in London.
Throughout the first show, set in three acts, I was amazed at how quickly it was going. There were two intermissions, 17 minutes each, after each act. The Neil Simon theater has restrooms downstairs with steps on the right and left sides. I was happy with my decision to get a seat in the last row of the Orchestra. As the lights dimmed after each act, I was first in line for the restrooms. An important note, this theater has only these facilities – so those in the front of the orchestra and everyone in the mezzanine found the lines quite long by the time they could get there.
Another tip – bring an empty water bottle. There are filtered coolers downstairs that you can refill it with – saving yourself $5 a bottle at concessions.
Between acts, I had my food plan nailed down. I didn’t want to search for a place to eat with my limited window, plus, it was St. Patrick’s Day. So I made my way to SPOONFED NYC, a decision that turned out to bring me one of my best meals this trip.
I had a cocktail, some amazing mac-n-cheese… and these chicken tenders which I will say, were the best chicken tenders I have ever had.
In addition to amazing southern food (there are so many things on the menu I want to go back and try on my next visit… including that bacon wrapped meatloaf on their sandwich board outside… but I wasn’t sure that was the best idea before heading back into the theater for another four hours! I will say, on this evening that I was again exploring this story that dives head first into race, class, and sexuality… it was nice to support an establishment that proudly posted that they are minority, veteran and gay owned. While I was there, both the chef and the owner came by to tell me there story, please take the time to go visit them on your next Broadway visit!
My heart and stomach full, I went back into the theater for the even longer second half – which also had two intermissions, this time each 22 minutes long.
I left thinking how relevant this play, set in the 90’s AIDS crisis, echoed so many issues that we struggle with today. How much progress we have made, and how much more fighting there is to do. I planned to make the journey to The Bethesda Fountain the next day… a place I have felt inspired so many times, and certainly Mr. Kushner was as well.