‘The Normal Heart’ revival last-minute entry in Tonys race

A charity reading last fall of Larry Kramer‘s landmark 1985 play “The Normal Heart” has begat a Broadway production featuring many of the same names this spring. Headlining the drama about the early days of the AIDS crisis will be actor turned director Joe Mantello, who was a Tony nominee for “Angels in America” in 1993; he lost the featured race to co-star Stephen Spinella. Since then, Mantello has won two Tonys for his helming of the play “Take Me Out” (2003) and the musical “Assassins” (2004).

Joining him will be John Benjamin Hickey, whom he directed in the 1995 Best Play champ “Love! Valor! Compassion,” and, in her Broadway debut, Ellen Barkin. Directing the production is Tony and Oscar winner Joel Grey (“Cabaret”) who is in rehearsals for his role in the revival of “Anything Goes” which begins previews March 10 for an April 7 opening. Grey was part of the original company of “Wicked,” the smash musical directed by Mantello in 2003.

“The Normal Heart” will begins previews at the Golden on April 19, just 10 days after the closing of “Driving Miss Daisy,” one of its main rivals in the Play Revival race. And it opens on April 27, the same night as the tuner “Baby Its You!” premieres at the Broadhurst and one day before the eligibility deadline.

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