Broadway Features and Reviews
Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart
The pulse of the red carpet beat triumphantly Wednesday, April 27th as Larry Kramer's understated and long-awaited The Normal Heart returned to Broadway at NYC's Golden Theatre. Lead by the dynamic team of directors' Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe, the revival of the revolutionary 1984 production was given vital new life with the gifts of the extraordinary cast of Ellen Barkin, Mark Harelik, Patrick Breen, John Benjamin Hickey, Luke Macfarlane, Joe Mantello, Lee Pace, Jim Parsons, Richard Topol, and Wayne Alan Wilcox.
Rarely do you see the star-studded red carpet fueled with such anticipation on Broadway as the line of celebrities raced around the block on West 45th Street to enter The Golden Theatre. Sarah Jessica Parker and husband Matthew Broderick, Liza Minnelli, Melissa Etheridge, Kelly Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos, Taye Diggs, Nathan Lane, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Chamberlain, Julianna Margulies, Andy Cohen, Mike Nichols, Patti LuPone, Cheyenne Jackson, Kenneth Cole, Amy Ryan, Ron Rifkin, Lily Rabe, Tovah Feldshuh, Mario Cantone, directing duo Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Laura Benanti, Julie White and many, many more were all adorned in their finest to celebrate Larry Kramer's tribute to the battle for equal rights in the United States. "It's a love story… and to see gay men have a love story on the Broadway theatre stage that moves people as much as this does is a very moving experience to me," said the very genuine and epic writer. "I hope this will re-awaken the fact that AIDS is getting worse and worse still."
The Normal Heart follows a close group of friends who rise to break the veil of silence that shadows the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Coming together in confrontation of the media, politicians, doctors, friends and family who seek to suppress their voice, the production's storyline develops in powerful political suspense, meeting gay rights, marriage, healthcare, AIDS and the American public with the unfettered reality of the times. The Normal Heart stands with a renewed resonance, and one Larry Kramer soon hopes is heard.
And heard he is! Hollywood echoed Kramer's cry for a re-awakening out on the carpet, genuinely voicing the potential for this production as it begins its theatrical run. "There are still many, many people living with HIV/AIDS," said an earnest Sarah Jessica Parker alongside her husband, Matthew Broderick. "He's [Kramer] a really important playwright and for those of us that didn't have an opportunity to see an original production, I think it's very special that we have an opportunity to now see it." Patricia Clarkson echoed her sentiment, reminding we "must never let down our guard. We should always continue. There are still so many people struggling today. It's got it's rightful place. I'm so excited about seeing this tonight." For singer Melissa Etheridge, this beautiful opening was a night "to cry… and to let it out again, and to be reminded of… what was going on."
"This is a once in a lifetime kind of thing to see with this group of actors telling this story," said Bravo's Andy Cohen. For so many involved in its evolution, the opening night of The Normal Heart was without comparison. Producer Daryl Roth smiled before the curtain opened that the work "just fills the bill for me. It's a dramatic story. It's beautifully written. Ultimately, it's a story about love…. And it's a story that gives opportunities for us to think about things that maybe we push away and don't want to face. I want people to walk out of this theatre having experienced this play thinking about people that are marginalized in our society, and what they can do to help make the world a better place." As The Golden Theatre emptied after the curtain closed, this sentiment was evident in the crowd. "People respond to it in such a vocal way. Never before have I done a play where the audience is such a strong character," smiled Lee Pace, Bruce Niles in the production. "This play is such an emotional thing to be a part of that there's a powerful feeling every time we perform it," agreed Joe Parsons, playing Tommy Boatwright. Joe Mantello (Ned Weeks) joined in- "We all feel exhilarated. It's been so astonishing to see this play that I fell in love with in 1984 come to Broadway tonight."
For Wayne Alan Wilcox, David in the production, the power of this work is its vast reach. "I think the message has definitely gotten to younger people, and that's one of the things that theatre can do. It's live and you can feel things and it's not just a story being told at you, you're actually experiencing it with you. That's the great thing that theatre can do." Mark Harelik, beautifully cast in his role as Ben Weeks finds much the same at the core of Kramer's dream. "The play is called The Normal Heart. There is a world of activism that can be done around the AIDS crisis, but the title of the play is your heart is just as normal a heart as mine is, and no matter what the great divide is between the two of us, we have to cross over it."
The Normal Heart is beating now on Broadway at The Golden Theatre through July 10th. Come be part of this beautiful celebration!
For additional Broadway features visit http://www.broadway.tv/broadway-features-reviews
The Normal Heart, Larry Cramer, Joel Grey, George C. Wolfe, New York City, The Golden Theatre, Ellen Barkin, Mark Harelik, Patrick Breen, John Benjamin Hickey, Luke Macfarlane, Joe Mantello, Lee Pace, Jim Parsons, Richard Topol, Wayne Alan Wilcox, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Liza Minnelli, Melissa Etheridge, Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos, Taye Diggs, Nathan Lane, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Chamberlain, Julianna Margulies, Andy Cohen, Mike Nichols, Patti LuPone, Cheyenne Jackson, Kenneth Cole, Amy Ryan, Ron Rifkin, Lily Rabe, Tovah Feldshuh, Mario Cantone, Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, Laura Benanti, Julie White