The Normal Heart Ends Tony-Winning Limited Run July 10
By Andrew Gans
The Broadway premiere of Larry Kramer's ground-breaking play The Normal Heart, which won the 2011 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play, plays the final performance of its limited, 12-week engagement July 10 at 7 PM.
Produced by Daryl Roth and directed by Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe, The Normal Heart began performances April 19 at the Golden Theatre and opened to rave reviews April 27. When it closes, the acclaimed production will have played 85 performances.
The Normal Heart also won Tony Awards for Best Featured Actor in a Play (John Benjamin Hickey) and Best Featured Actress in a Play (Ellen Barkin).
In a statement producer Daryl Roth said, "This experience has been a true labor of love for everyone involved and I’m so proud to have been able to give Larry Kramer’s masterpiece this breathtaking production. I don’t think we were fully prepared for the overwhelming and emotional audience response night after night. I know The Normal Heart has touched many people and made a difference in their lives, and I am committed to bringing this play to as many cities as possible so even more people can experience its power and passion."
Tony winner Joe Mantello plays Ned Weeks, the hero of the drama about fear in the early days of the AIDS crisis. The cast also boasts Barkin as Dr. Emma Brookner, Patrick Breen as Mickey Marcus, 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 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.
Co-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).
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