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'Angels' Wins a Pulitzer

April 14, 1993|DON SHIRLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Fa-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-bulous!"

That was Tony Kushner's written response to his winning the Pulitzer Prize for drama for "Millennium Approaches," part one of his "Angels in America" epic, which was presented in November at the Mark Taper Forum. He was using a line spoken by one of the characters in the show.

In a statement released in New York, Kushner apologized for not speaking to reporters in person but said he was working very hard on the Broadway production of "Millennium, " which was scheduled to present its first preview Tuesday night at the Walter Kerr Theatre.

Kushner wrote that he is "very proud to be a playwright at a time when so many remarkable plays are being written" and paid tribute to the producers, cast and crew "and most of all to my two collaborators, Oskar Eustis and Kimberly Flynn."

Eustis commissioned the play for the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco and later co-directed the first full production at the Taper. Flynn is a friend of Kushner. Kushner also saluted "my gay sisters and brothers" and "everyone fighting the war against AIDS, bigotry and injustice."

In New York for the first preview of "Millennium," Taper artistic director/producer Gordon Davidson reflected on the second Pulitzer in a row to go to a play produced at the Taper (the first was last year's "The Kentucky Cycle") and said the prize is "a recognition that we haven't tapered off."

"It's amazing that these two came back-to-back. I'm happy they were in different seasons and didn't cancel each other out." Davidson added that "Millennium" wouldn't have won without the Taper production. Four of the five panelists for the drama prize saw "Millennium" at the Taper.

The initial New York preview of "Millennium" was postponed from Monday to Tuesday because of technical problems. A complete run-through including the flying angel effects at the finale of "Millennium" had not yet been completed, explained Davidson.

"What would it be like if 'Angels in America' didn't have a canceled preview?" he asked, referring to the earlier cancellation of the first preview of the epic's second half, "Perestroika," last fall at the Taper.

The announcement had "a somewhat poignant quality," said Eustis, who co-directed the Taper production with Tony Taccone. The duo was replaced by George C. Wolfe for the directing assignment in New York. "But I'm very proud of him (Kushner). This feels like a wonderful climax to the play. And it's such an important marker for what the theater can do. It throws down a gauntlet. It says that the theater can be this incredibly vital art form."

The other arts Pulitzer, for music composition, went to Christopher Rouse's Trombone Concerto.

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