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Glenn Close, Garber, Wilson et al. in NORMAL HEART Benefit, 10/18

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Producer Daryl Roth announced that Glenn Close will play the role of "Dr. Emma Brookner" in the upcoming, Joel Grey-directed, 25th anniversary staged reading of Larry Kramer's ground-breaking play, The Normal Heart. She joins cast members Victor Garber, Jason Butler Harner, John Benjamin Hickey, Joe Mantello, Jack McBrayer, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Patrick Wilson in the one-night-only event that will benefit The Actors Fund and Friends In Deed. The historic reading will take place at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre (219 West 48th Street) on Monday, October 18 at 7:30 p.m.

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. This reading comes on the heels of the sold-out, acclaimed reading of The Normal Heart at Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse in May, which was also directed by Mr. Grey.

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."

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