AIDS Drama Brings Out The Big Names

The Broadway revival of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, about the early days of the AIDS crisis, is a powerhouse that I'll tell you more about on Wednesday night, when it officially opens.

Meanwhile, let me recap last night's reception at the theater, where I mixed with various cast members and guests after an emotional performance.

"It was all done in 16 days, from the first reading," Kramer exulted to me. "[Co-director] George C. Wolfe really whipped it together."

(And Kramer's there at practically every performance -- "for the actors," he told me.)

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I asked Ellen Barkin, who's great as the angry doctor, if it's hard to summon that amount of rage every night.

"No!" she exclaimed, smiling -- and I wasn't surprised, since she famously threw a glass of water at Ron Perlman!

And I talked to Jim Parsons (above, from The Big Bang Theory) about his Southern activist character, who's sweet and solid, a real peacemaker.

"He's unafraid and brave," said Parsons. "He's willing to get in the dirt -- to deal with the disease hands-on. And he wants to take care of everyone."

Parsons is so good in the role that I assumed he's like that, too, but he said that while he'd like to be that effective in situations, he's not always sure what to do.

"But I'm nice!" he exclaimed, convincingly.

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