The producers of Angels in America, Tony Kushner’s epic comedy-drama about politics and religion in the age of AIDS, have decided that the second part, Perestroika, is technically too wobbly to open until October 9. So I’ll wait for both wings to unfold before exploring the work in a full review. But I have no qualms about giving the first half, Millennium Approaches, my highest recommendation–or about stating my hope that director Michael Mayer will carry through in Perestroika the same spare simplicity that makes his Millennium Approaches light-years better than the Broadway version. With acting equal or superior to that of the New York cast–especially the sensitive and honest performances of Kate Goehring and Philip Earl Johnson as a Mormon couple torn apart by the husband’s emerging homosexuality–Mayer’s staging is a lean and articulate reading of the spiritual, social, and emotional themes that flow through Kushner’s densely cross-referenced text. Far less technically elaborate than on Broadway–or than in previews here, judging from reliable reports–this production of Millennium Approaches is essential theater in every sense of the word. Royal George Theatre Center, 1641 N. Halsted, 988-9000. Through November 26; see listing for schedule. $35-$45.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Joan Marcus.