Garber, Wilson, Mantello Lead Grey-Helmed 'Normal Heart' Reading, 10/18
Producer Daryl Roth announced today that the first cast members are in place for the Joel Grey-directed, 25th anniversary staged reading of Larry Kramer's ground-breaking play, The Normal Heart, at the Walter Kerr Theatre (219 West 48th Street) on Monday, October 18 at 7:30 p.m. Victor Garber, Jason Butler Harner, John Benjamin Hickey, Joe Mantello, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Patrick Wilson are set to star in the one-night-only event on Broadway that will benefit The Actors Fund and Friends In Deed. Additional casting news will be announced shortly. This reading comes on the heels of the sold-out, acclaimed reading of The Normal Heart at Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse in September, which was also directed by Mr. Grey.
Playing the central role of Ned Weeks, Mr. Mantello will be making his first stage appearance since he starred in Angels in America on Broadway in 1994.
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. First produced by Joseph Papp and directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg for New York's Public Theater, The play was a critical sensation and ran for 294 performances.
Having been a part of the original production of The Normal Heart at The Public Theater, in which he played the role of Ned Weeks, Mr. Grey has special insight into the play, as well as a passionate commitment to the piece and to the issue it revolutionized: the AIDS epidemic.
Regular tickets range from $75 t0 $150. VIP tickets, which include premium seating, an invitation to a private after-party with the cast and a special listing in the souvenir program, range from $500 to $1000. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 212.221.7300, ext 133.
Frank Rich in the New York Times wrote of the original production, "The stage seethes with the conflict of impassioned, literally life-and-death argument." In his Newsweek review, Jack Kroll called it, "Extraordinary ... a fierce and moving human drama." Other responses included Liz Smith in the New York Daily News: "An astounding drama . . . a damning indictment of a nation in the middle of an epidemic with its head in the sand. It will make your hair stand on end even as the tears spurt from your eyes;" while legendary director Harold Prince stated, "I haven't been this involved - upset - in too damn long. Kramer honors us with this stormy, articulate theatrical work."
The Actors Fund is a national human services organization that helps everyone - performers and those behind the scenes - who works in performing arts and entertainment, helping nearly 12,000 people directly each year, and hundreds of thousands online. Serving professionals in film, theatre, television, music, opera, radio and dance, The Fund's programs include social services and emergency assistance, health care and insurance, housing, and employment and training services. With offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, The Actors Fund has - for over 125 years - been a safety net for those in need, crisis or transition.
Founded by Mike Nichols and Cynthia O'Neal in 1991, Friends In Deed -- The Crisis Center for Life-Threatening Illness -- has helped transform many thousands of lives through a wide array of free programs and services. Friends In Deed provides emotional and spiritual support for anyone diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening physical illnesses. Support is also available for family, friends, and caregivers of those who are ill, and anyone dealing with grief and bereavement. All services are free of charge.
For more information, visit www.actorsfund.org and www.friendsindeed.org.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.