Broadway Revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart Wins Three 2011 Tony Awards

The AIDS Memorial Candlelight Vigil, Washington DC, 1989

Broadway Revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart Wins Three 2011 Tony Awards

Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, which originally was performed at New York City’s Public Theater in 1985, won the 2011 Tony Award for revival of a play. The play is considered to be a literary landmark, contending with the AIDS crisis when few would speak of the disease afflicting gay men, including gays themselves. It remains the longest-running play ever staged at the Public Theater.

In addition, The Tony award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role went to Ellen Barkin, and the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play went to John Benjamin Hickey, both for their performances in The Normal Heart. Producer Daryl Roth accepted the award, but it was the playwright Larry Kramer, an outspoken gay activist for many years, who received the biggest welcome from the audience. The writer exhorted the gay community to “carry on the fight,” adding that “our day will come.”

The stunning, pulse-pounding ensemble drama tells the groundbreaking story of love, rage and pride as it follows a group of New Yorkers confronting the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s. The story of a city in denial, The Normal Heart unfolds like a real-life political thriller, as a tight-knit group of friends refuses to let doctors, politicians and the press bury the truth of an unspoken epidemic behind a wall of silence. A quarter-century after it was written, this unflinching, and totally unforgettable look at the sexual politics of New York City during the AIDS crisis remains one of the theater’s most powerful evenings ever.

Tony Awards Acceptance Speech: The Normal Heart

Broadway’s Revival of The Normal Heart and The AIDS Crisis

Highlights From Broadway’s The Normal Heart

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Hair: A Requiem for the Ephemeral in Life

Hair: A Requiem for the Ephemeral in Life

In The New York Times, Ben Brantley has written a very thoughtful review of the re-staging of the 1960s musical Hair by New York’s Public Theater. It’s exuberant production of Hair officially opened Thursday night, but middle-aged audience members who revisit this 1967 landmark theatrical work in search of the aimless flower children they once were are likely to uncover more than they bargained for.

The lively teenage rebels of Hair may be running headlong after a long good time. But in this production it’s clear that they’re also running away, and not just from what they see as the bleak futures of their parents lives and the outrages of the war in Vietnam. The hippies of this production of Hair are also struggling against the dawning of a sense that no party can last forever, and that they have no place to go once it’s over.

Seen 40 years after it first stormed the middle-class citadel of musical comedy, Hair registers as an eloquent requiem not only for the idealism of one generation but also for the evanescence of youth itself. It’s still the “tribal love-rock” celebration it was always advertised as being. But in suggesting that the dawning age of Aquarius is already destined for nightfall, this new production establishes the show as more than a vivacious period piece. Hair, it seems, has deeper roots than anyone remembered.

For Brantly, as the summer twilight shaded into full night at at the open-air Delacorte Theater, the exhilaration of The Public Theater’s Hair was tempered by an exquisitely sad taste of the ephemeral in life. This revelatory production’s anthem turns out not to be its title song, although it was performed with marvelous gusto, but the haunting ballad sung shortly thereafter. Its title: “Where Do I Go?

Hair: The Age of Aquarious

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