By Darla Shelden
This month the Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre Company (CityRep) will present Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, an award winning story of love, justice and HIV/AIDS, at the Civic Center Music Hall’s Freede Little Theatre. The Oklahoma premiere is November 9 and the play continues through the 18th.
Winner of three 2011 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Play, The Normal Heart was hailed by the New York Times as “a great cathartic night at the theater.” It focuses on the rise of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City between 1981 and 1985, as seen through the eyes of writer/activist Ned Weeks. Enraged at the indifference of public officials and the gay community, Ned must deal with the personal toll of AIDS when his lover dies of the disease.
“We are very pleased to produce this most important and profoundly moving theatrical event,” said Donald Jordon, CityRep Artistic Director. “We thank our producing partners, AIDS Walk OKC, The Gayly, The American Theatre Wing, Macys, BancFirst and Cimarron Alliance Foundation for helping to make it possible. The Normal Heart is a deeply emotional snapshot of a seminal moment in our nation’s culture and history, the advent of the AIDS crisis and how we dealt with it as a country.”
Scott J. Hamilton, executive director of Cimarron Alliance, central Oklahoma’s LGBT advocacy and education organization said, “The Normal Heart is an important piece of theater. When City Rep approached us about being a community sponsor for this play, we were eager to accept their offer. By keeping AIDS in the public eye, we remind each other that despite much progress, the disease remains a crisis here and throughout the world.”
The cast of the CityRep production includes Jonathan Beck Reed, Broadway’s Stacey Logan, Matthew Alvin Brown, and Emmy Award winner Michael Jones. Also featured in the production are Michael Corolla, Brian Hamilton, Drew Pollock, Wil Rogers, Scotty Taylor, Terry Veal, Larry Sharp, Daniel Leeman Smith, Scott C. Hynes, and Lane Fields.
“The Normal Heart is a very powerful and eye opening play,” said John Greer, Executive directive OKC AIDS Walk. “And it’s premiering here in Oklahoma! The play is directed by a friend of mine, Rene Moreno and stars our own Broadway girl, Stacey Logan, Jonathan Beck Reed and a host of others.”
The Normal Heart is directed by Broadway veteran René Moreno, Set Design is by Amanda Foust, Lighting Design is by Adam Chamberlin, Sound Design is by Steve Emerson, Properties Design is by Suzette Collins Sroufe, and Hair and Makeup Design is by Suzette Collins Sroufe. Steve Emerson is the Production Stage Manager.
Moreno is also a professional actor who has worked on and off Broadway in New York City as well as at many regional theaters, including The Guthrie Theatre, Arena Stage, Old Globe Theatre, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
First produced in 1985 by Joseph Papp at New York’s Public Theater, The Normal Heart was a critical sensation. It deals with gay marriage, the healthcare system and AIDS, issues still at the forefront today.
CityRep recently honored director Lyle Dye, at the Black Tie to Tie Dye Gala in Oklahoma City. In 1971 Dye became the artistic director of the metro’s Lyric Theatre and later served as executive director of the Oklahoma Theatre Center.
“For our annual Gala this year we honored Lyle Dye, the long time legendary theatrical director whose work in Oklahoma City in the 70’s-80’s laid the foundation for so much that both we and the Lyric theater, where he was Artistic Director, are doing now,” said Jordon.
CityRep season sponsors are the Oklahoma Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Richard P. Dulaney Foundation.