Normal Heart, with Joe Mantello, Ellen Barkin, John Benjamin Hickey, Will Play Broadway's Golden

By Andrew Gans
23 Feb 2011

Joe Mantello
Joe Mantello
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart will make its Broadway debut this spring, using elements from a starry reading that was seen in October.

Performances will begin at the Golden, currently the home of the acclaimed revival of Driving Miss Daisy, April 19 with an official opening scheduled for April 27, according to the New York Times. (The play will share its opening night with Baby It's You!, the tale of the rise of The Shirelles, which is scheduled to open April 27 at the Broadhurst.)

As he did in the earlier reading, Tony winner Joe Mantello will play Ned Weeks, the hero of the drama about fear in the early days of the AIDS crisis. Fellow Tony winner Joel Grey, who will be seen in the upcoming revival of Anything Goes, will again direct.

The cast will also include John Benjamin Hickey as Ned's lover, Felix Turner; and Ellen Barkin, in her Broadway debut, as Dr. Emma Brookner. The Times also reports that Cheyenne Jackson is currently in negotiations to be part of the cast.



The production marks the Broadway debut of writer-activist Kramer, and a Broadway acting return for Mantello, who gave up performing (he was a Tony nominee for playing Louis in Angels in America) in recent years in favor of directing (Assassins, Take Me Out, Wicked, 9 to 5, The Odd Couple). It will also mark the Broadway directing debut of Tony Award-winning actor Grey.

A 25th anniversary benefit staged reading of Kramer's The Normal Heart, directed by Grey, was presented at the Walter Kerr Theatre Oct. 18, 2010. Daryl Roth produced the reading, which supported both the Actors Fund and Friends in Deed.

Director Grey starred in the original 1985 Off-Broadway production of The Normal Heart at The Public Theater, in which he played Ned, based semi-autobiographically on playwright Kramer. (Grey succeeded Brad Davis, who originated the role.) Worth Street Theatre revived the play Off-Broadway in 2004, at the Public. The Normal Heart focuses on "the terrifying early years of the AIDS epidemic in New York and the criminal silence of official America in dealing with it."