Angels in America received numerous awards, including the 1993 and 1994 Tony Awards for Best Play. The play's first part, Millennium Approaches, received the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The play garnered much praise upon its release for its dialogue and exploration of social issues. “Mr. Kushner has written the most thrilling American play in years,” wrote The New York Times.
A decade after the play's premier, Metro Weekly labeled it “one of the most important pieces of theater to come out of the late 20th century.”
By contrast, in an essay titled "Angles in America", Lee Siegel wrote in The New Republic, "Angels in America is a second-rate play written by a second-rate playwright who happens to be gay, and because he has written a play about being gay, and about AIDS, no one—and I mean no one—is going to call Angels in America the overwrought, coarse, posturing, formulaic mess that it is."
In response to the frank treatment of homosexuality and AIDS, and brief male nudity, the play quickly became subject to controversial reaction from conservative and religious groups, sometimes labelled as being part of the "culture war". In Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1996, there were protests held outside a production of the play by the theater company Charlotte Repertory Theater which was at the Booth Theater. This led to funding cuts for the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte, the city's arts funding agency, in the following year.