The Normal Heart Begins Beating on Broadway April 19

By Andrew Gans
April 19, 2011

Utilizing elements from a starry reading that was seen in October 2010, Larry Kramer's groundbreaking play The Normal Heart makes its Broadway debut April 19 at the John Golden Theatre.



As he did in the earlier reading, Tony winner Joe Mantello plays Ned Weeks, the hero of the drama about fear in the early days of the AIDS crisis. Fellow Tony winner Joel Grey, who can be seen in the critically acclaimed revival of Anything Goes, again directs. (George C. Wolfe is helping to supervise the presentation through opening night.)

The cast also boasts Ellen Barkin as Dr. Emma Brookner, Patrick Breen as Mickey Marcus, John Benjamin Hickey as Felix Turner, Luke Macfarlane as Craig Donner/Grady, Lee Pace as Bruce Niles, Jim Parsons as Tommy Boatwright, Mark Harelik as Ben Weeks, Richard Topol as Hiram Keebler/Examining Doctor and Wayne Wilcox as David.

The 12-week engagement will officially open April 27.

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 also marks the Broadway directing debut of Tony Award-winning actor Grey.

"The story of a city in denial," The Normal Heart, according press notes state, "unfolds like a real-life political thriller — as a tight-knit group of friends refuses to let doctors, politicians and the press bury the truth of an unspoken epidemic behind a wall of silence. First produced by Joseph Papp at New York's Public Theater, the play was a critical sensation and a seminal moment in theater history. So ahead of its time was this play that many of the core issues it addresses — including gay marriage, the healthcare system and, of course, AIDS — are just as relevant today as they were when it first premiered."

Read the Playbill.com Stage to Screens interview with Jim Parsons of TV's "The Big Bang Theory."

The design team includes David Rockwell (sets), Martin Pakledinaz (costumes), David Weiner (lighting), David Van Tieghem (sound) and Batwin & Robin (projections).

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 will support a group of dedicated nonprofit organizations, including The Actors Fund and Friends In Deed, among others.

Producers are Daryl Roth, Paul Boskind and Martian Entertainment in association with Gregory Rae and Jayne Baron Sherman/Alexander Fraser.

Tickets, priced  $26.50-$116.50, are available via Telecharge.com, by calling (212) 239-6200, or in person at the John Golden Theatre box office (252 West 45th Street).