Fans of the Tony Award–winning revival of Angels in America have a reason to celebrate a year after the show closed—the entire cast, including Tony winners Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane, preserved their performances for a new audiobook version of the Tony Kushner play, available May 14 from Penguin Random House Audio.
“When I started my career in audiobooks, I spent a lot of time listening to unabridged versions of Shakespeare’s plays performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company,” says Dan Zitt, Senior Vice President of Content Production for Penguin Random House Audio. “Since many plays have limited runs, recording an audiobook is an amazing way to share a production that many people would have never had the chance to see. There is something really exciting about sharing this beautiful experience with people all over the country.”
"Theater vanishes once the last performance ends, so I count it another stroke of great good fortune that Penguin Random House Audio has transformed this splendid stage production into an experience that’s dramatic and also, in the audiobook’s theater of human voices, novelistic in its intimacy," Kushner says. "Listening to it has been for me a rediscovery of the plays.”
Adding to the potency of the recording are Bobby Cannavale and Edie Falco, who give life to Kushner’s stage directions and provide listeners an idea of the onstage action. Both actors—who were not involved in the National Theatre revival, directed by Marianne Elliott—were carefully chosen for their New York City ties.
“Tony, Karen [Dziekonski, Assistant Director of Content Production at Penguin Random House Audio], and I agreed we needed two narrators, one for Millennium Approaches and one for Perestroika, and wanted two voices that were distinctly ‘New York’ since the city provides such an influential backdrop,” Zitt says. “We are all big fans of Bobby and Edie’s work and knew that they would bring the right amount of gravitas to the narration and complement the ensemble performances. They are there to hold listeners’ hands on this journey, framing the portrait of the characters’ lives."
Fresh off their Tony wins, the cast gathered to perform for the microphones—but not together. “Our initial plan was to record all the actors together over the course of two days before the end of the Broadway run, but we quickly realized that would be impossible due to the demanding performance schedule,” says Dziekonski. “Over [a] few months, the actors recorded their parts solo in studios in New York, London, and Glasgow. Watching Nathan Lane perform Roy Cohn up close in the studio was a master class in acting and will stay with me forever.”
Elliott was not on hand for the recording but gave the project her blessing. “We saw our role as caretakers in the studio to stay as true to the stage production as possible,” Zitt says. “We didn’t want the studio setting to inhibit the actors’ performances in any way, so we told everyone to give us the same energy and emote as they would on stage, from the high-energy shouting matches to the quieter moments.”
The end result is as close to experiencing the production and the performances live in person as a home listener can get—giving Kushner’s epic masterpiece yet another medium in which to thrive.
For more information and to purchase Angels in America, click here!