April 27, 2011
The play centers on Ned Weeks, a gay writer who finds himself at the forefront of the fight against AIDS at a time when the disease was so new it didn’t even have a name. As more and more of his friends fall ill, Ned does his best to rally support for the cause all while finding love with his own partner, Felix, and raging against institutions of media, medicine and government that seem determined to ignore him.
The character of Ned Weeks is largely based on Kramer himself, and the autobiographical play is based on Kramer’s own experience as an activist in the 1980s.
The play premiered off-Broadway at the Public Theater in 1983, and is still the theater’s longest-running production. A successful revival, starring Raul Esparza as Ned Weeks, was staged at the Worth Street Theatre Company off-Broadway in 2004. The current incarnation began life as a one-night-only reading in October 2010 to benefit the Actors Fund and Friends In Deed before making the leap to a full Broadway production.
Daryl Roth, Paul Boskind, Martian Entertainment, Gergory Rae, Jayne Baron Sherman/Alexander Fraser
—Broadway.com Audience Choice Award nomination for Favorite Play Revival
—Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play
—Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play
—Drama League nomination for Distinguished Revival of a Play
Joel Grey, co-director of this current production of The Normal Heart, played the role of Ned Weeks in the 1985 off-Broadway production after original star Brad Davis contracted AIDS and had to leave the show.