Theatergoers in Los Angeles and Chicago will have a chance this fall to see The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s classic 1985 play about the early years of the AIDS epidemic.
The Fountain Theatre in L.A. is presenting the first production of The Normal Heart in that city in nearly 20 years. There are preview performances tonight through Friday, and the official opening is Saturday night. The production stars Tim Cummings as Ned Weeks, a New York writer — based on the playwright — who is spurred to activism by the devastation of the epidemic. Others in the cast are Bill Brochtrup, Lisa Pelikan, Verton R. Banks, Matt Gottlieb, Fred Koehler, Stephen O’Mahoney, Ray Paolantonio, Dan Shaked, and Jeff Witzke. Simon Levy directs, and performances are scheduled through November 3. For more information, call (323) 663-1525 or go to FountainTheatre.com.
“What’s wonderful about this play is that it’s a passionate reminder that we must always keep fighting for what we believe in, that we must never let injustice go unanswered,” says Levy.
Chicago will see its first-ever production of The Normal Heart when TimeLine Theatre Company stages the play October 26 through December 22 at Stage 773, under the direction of Nick Bowling. David Cromer stars as Ned, and the cast also includes Patrick Andrews, Marc Grapey, Stephen Rader, Alec Weissman, and Mary Beth Fisher. TimeLine artistic director P.J. Powers notes that nearly 30 years after its premiere, “the play retains its potency. It has evolved into a searing reminder of how history is shaped by the action — or inaction — of people like you and me.” For tickets and info, call (773) 327-5252 or visit TimeLineTheatre.com.
The Normal Heart was initially produced off-Broadway in 1985; in 2011 it received its first Broadway production, which won three Tony Awards. Ryan Murphy is directing a film adaptation that will air on HBO next year, with a cast led by Mark Ruffalo as Ned and including Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Julia Roberts, Taylor Kitsch, Jonathan Groff, and Denis O’Hare.
“Originally, the play was considered agitprop, which, in fact, it was,” Kramer told Playbill last year. “Now it's considered a history play. Everything I said in the play has come true, and you react to that in an entirely different way.”