American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Artistic Director Carey Perloff announced today the casting for the West Coast premiere of The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer's landmark play focusing on the early years of the AIDS crisis in New York City in the 1980s. Directed by five-time Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe, The Normal Heart unfolds like a real-life political thriller as a tight-knit group of friends refuse to let doctors, politicians, and the press bury the truth about an epidemic ravaging the gay community behind a wall of silence. The Normal Heart performs a limited run September 13–October 7, 2012, at the American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco). Press night is Wednesday, September 19, at 8 p.m. The Normal Heart is presented in association with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C., by special arrangement with Daryl Roth.
The Normal Heart will feature original Broadway cast member Patrick Breen in the role of Ned Weeks, the fiery writer and activist at the center of the play. He is joined by noted film and television actress (and fellow original Broadway cast member) JorDan Baker as Dr. Emma Brookner, a passionate physician determined to stop the spread of the mysterious disease. The production also features Tom Berklund (Broadway's The Addams Family) as Craig Donner/Grady, Matt McGrath (Broadway's Cabaret, A.C.T.'s The Black Rider) as Felix Turner, Tony Award nominee Michael Berresse (Broadway's Kiss Me, Kate, A Chorus Line, and The Light in the Piazza) as Mickey Marcus, Sean Dugan (NBC's Smash) as Tommy Boatwright, Jon Levenson (Broadway's The Normal Heart) as Hiram Keebler/Examining Doctor, Nick Mennell (Broadway's A Free Man of Color) as Bruce Niles, and Bruce Altman (HBO's Game Change) as Ben Weeks.
Says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff: "The company that we've assembled for this San Francisco outing of The Normal Heart is extraordinary in every way-we're thrilled to welcome our old friend Matt McGrath back to A.C.T. after his triumph in The Black Rider, and to welcome Patrick Breen and these other remarkable talents to our stage for the first time. We know these wonderful actors will deliver the vivid emotional truth of the play, and we can't wait to share their work with our audience."
Fueled by love, anger, hope, and pride, The Normal Heart centers around a circle of friends struggling to contain the mysterious disease ravaging New York's gay community. First produced in 1985 by Joseph Papp at New York's Public Theater, the show immediately became a critical sensation and a seminal moment in theater history. Kramer's unapologetic tackling of the AIDS epidemic, gay marriage, and our national healthcare system casts theatrical light on issues that are as present in today's national discourse as they were when the play first premiered a quarter of a century ago.
Wolfe's 2011 Broadway staging received universal acclaim and was the recipient of three Tony Awards, three Drama Desk Awards, and the Outer Circle Critics Circle Award, all naming it Best Revival of a Play. The show was also awarded the Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle.
The Normal Heart reunites members of the Broadway revival's design team, including scenic designer David Rockwell, costume designer Martin Pakledinaz, lighting designer David Weiner, sound designer and original music composer David Van Tieghem, and projection designer Batwin & Robin. Joining the team is restaging director Leah C. Gardiner.