Normal Heart Offers Discounted Performance for Young Audiences May 26; Special Talkback Planned
By Andrew Gans
The May 26 performance of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart is available for a one-night-only discounted price for young people. A special talkback follows the Tony-nominated Broadway production at the John Golden Theatre.
In an effort to help introduce Kramer's play to a new generation of theatregoers, $30 tickets will be available to anyone born in 1980 or after by showing a photo I.D. at the Golden Theatre box office (252 West 45th Street).
A special talkback hosted by NY1 theatre producer and reporter Frank DiLella and Playbill magazine editor Blake Ross, who will be joined by members of the cast, will follow the performance.
Utilizing elements from a starry reading that was seen in October 2010, Kramer's groundbreaking, emotionally powerful The Normal Heart officially made its Broadway debut April 27 following previews that began 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 helped supervise through opening night.)
The cast of the 12-week engagement 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. Barkin will be honored with a Special Achievement Award by the Outer Critics Circle for her "Outstanding Broadway Debut" at the May 26 ceremony.
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."
The design team includes David Rockwell (sets), Martin Pakledinaz (costumes), David Weiner (lighting), David Van Tieghem (sound) and Batwin & Robin (projections).
Audiences who attend The Normal Heart will receive a letter written by the playwright upon exiting the theatre. At some performances, the playwright himself distributes the letter, which is titled "Please Know." To view the letter, click here.
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.
The production began hosting a series of post-show talkbacks May 3. Immediately following Tuesday performances, members of the community lead a Tuesday TalkOut, which will underscore the themes and historical context of the play.
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).
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