What do you do after you’ve been nominate for your first Oscar and the world is at your feet? Head to Off-Broadway. Or at least that’s what Jessie Eisenberg (The Social Network) is doing this fall. He will star in his self-penned play Asuncion, produced by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater starting October 12.
The producers of the acclaimed revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart are offering a special, one-night-only discount to younger audience members for this Thursday night’s performance. Theatergoers born in 1980 or after can purchase tickets from the box office for just $30. In addition, there will be an exclusive talk-back after the show featuring cast members (hosted by NY1’s theatre producer and reporter Frank DiLellaand Playbill Magazine editor-in-chief Blake Ross), focusing on the impact of the AIDS crisis and those who may not be as aware of the history.
The offer follows a volatile give and take between the always-incendiary Larry Kramer and young gay rights activists over comments Kramer has made about the apathy of subsequent generations of gay men. At times, the response has been just as fiery but it is exactly Kramer’s ability to incite people into action that makes him and his play indispensable. This evening promises to be an amazing chance for constructive dialogue and, just as importantly, a way to engage younger patrons who may not be able to afford Broadway prices but would love the chance to see one of the best productions of the year.
As a revival of Larry Kramer’s fiery The Normal Heart rages on Broadway, a personal storm over the film version of the play has been blazing through the headlines as well. This past weekend, Entertainment Weekly filed a report detailing Kramer’s accusations that Barbra Streisand held the rights to direct a movie of his play for a decade but, because she was unhappy with his screenplay, it was never made. He suggested that the legendary singer/actress/director wanted the script rewritten to pump up her role and marginalize the gay characters.
“I’ve endured Larry Kramer’s outbursts in the past, not wishing to dignify them with a response. But at a time when we are all pulling together to achieve such giant steps toward gay equality, it is anguishing to me to have my devotion to this cause so distorted.”
People who need people, indeed.
Fear not; a film version of the drama about the early days of the AIDS crisis is still being talked about given the universal acclaim and Tony nods for the Broadway revival–with Babs involved as an actress. An update to the ew.com report states, “The Oscar winner says she would consider playing Brookner [a fictionalized version of Dr. Linda Laubenstein, a physician who saw some of the earliest HIV cases in New York's gay community] in Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s planned adaptation starring Mark Ruffalo.”
Larry Kramer’s flame-throwing, autobiographical play about the early days of the AIDS crisis in New York City gets a starry revival directed by Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe.
“More than a quarter of a century after it first scorched New York, “The Normal Heart” is breathing fire again.” New York Times
“It’s a snapshot of a city and era that feel long gone, and this production, co-directed by Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe, gives it a worthy frame.” New York Post
“…this is a spectacularly well-cast production in which every role has found its ideal interpreter.” Hollywood Reporter
“How does it hold up? Better than I expected, but not as well as I’d hoped.” Wall Street Journal
Mizer’s Two Cents: This is passionate, essential theater brought to life by top-tier actors working as a perfect ensemble. Larry Kramer can be a real pill and Joe Mantello’s central performance as Kramer’s stand-in Ned Weeks doesn’t shy away from the loud and off-putting aspects of the character, but he also manages to let us see the insecure, romantic beneath. John Benjamin Hickey is the key, allowing us to fall in love with Larry through his smart, unsentimental eyes. Yes, the play is political, lopsided and “sad;” but it is also timely, scathingly funny and stuffed with spoken arias that ring show-stopping applause from the audience. Plus, you walk out of the theater feeling like you want to kick some butt. It is unmissable for all serious, adult theatergoers.
Screen legend Elizabeth Taylor died today at the age of 79. The world has lost not only one of the last golden-era movie stars, but also a theatrical icon. Now, I don’t mean to suggest that she was a stage actress in the most literal sense, although she did attempt a Broadway-fueled resurgence in the early 1980’s including a Tony-nominated performance in The Little Foxes. What does strike me in the outpouring of coverage is that much of Taylor’s greatest work came in film adaptations of plays. We can never go back and see Barbara Bel Geddes in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but we will always have Taylor’s sultry, emotionally bare performance in the film version. She will forever be the celluloid face of Maggie the Cat and Catherine (Suddenly, Last Summer) and, most impressively, Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. For all the talk of her beauty, eyes, marriages, perfumes and causes, watching this fiercely committed, unapologetic performance reminds us what she was most of all—a gifted actress.
Watch one amazing scene from Virginia Woolf after the jump.