BY Brandon Voss
May 11 2011 6:40 PM ET
The Normal Heart
Directed by Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe, Larry Kramer’s gut-punching 1985 drama about the AIDS crisis beats mightily with breathtaking performances by out actors Joe Mantello as activist Ned Weeks and John Benjamin Hickey as his ill lover. I found some directorial choices questionable — unnecessary scenic projections, for starters — but it’s best not to quibble with an impassioned treatise so cherished that it transcends theater.
John Golden Theatre, through July 10.
Based on the 1992 film, this besequined tuner is glorious thanks to a catchy, soulful Alan Menken-Glenn Slater score to match the story’s new 1970s Philly setting. Patina Miller erases memories of Whoopi as Deloris, who coaches a convent choir while in witness protection. Out playwright Douglas Carter Beane has given the book a sassy overhaul since that includes a Deloris drag queen and “a pair of bachelors who deal in antiques.”
Broadway Theatre, open-ended.
The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Ablaze with profane verbal fireworks that would make David Mamet blush, Stephen Adly Guirgis’s lean comedy about infidelity benefits from robust performances by Bobby Cannavale as Jackie, a hotheaded recovering addict, and Chris Rock as his sketchy sponsor. Yul Vázquez is a scene-stealer as Jackie’s maybe-gay cousin Julio, who gives a moving speech about how Jackie never abandoned him when bullies called him “faggot.”
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, through July 17.
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