New in 2018 A drag performer navigates both the liberation and assimilation of gay men in 1980s New York, as well as a back-and-forth plea for respect from his overbearing mother in a revival of Harvey Fierstein's powerful play.
From the producers: Fiercely funny and heart wrenching, "Torch Song" follows Arnold Beckoff's odyssey to find happiness in New York. All he wants is a husband, a child and a pair of bunny slippers that fit, but a visit from his overbearing mother reminds him that he needs one thing more: respect. Join Arnold on this all too human journey about the families we're born into, the families we choose and the battles to bring them all home.
"Torch Song" was previously known as "Torch Song Trilogy," a collection of three plays by Harvey Fierstein rendered in three acts: "International Stud," "Fugue in a Nursery," and "Widows and Children First!" The play first opened at the uptown Richard Allen Center in 1981. The following year it transferred to the Actors' Playhouse in Greenwich Village, where it ran for 117 performances, starring author Fierstein. The first Broadway production opened in 1982 at the Little Theatre, where it ran for 1,222 performances. The play won Fierstein two Tony Awards, for Best Play and Best Actor in a Play, two Drama Desk Awards, and the Theatre World Award.
The current production is a transfer of Second Stage Theater’s Off-Broadway revival in 2017, which condensed Fierstein's original trilogy into two acts. The cast reprise their roles from that production, including Drama Desk Award winner Michael Urie ("Buyer & Cellar," TV's "Ugly Betty"), Tony and Oscar winner Mercedes Ruehl ("Lost in Yonkers," "The Fisher King"), Ward Horton, Roxanna Hope Radja, Michael Hsu Rosen and Jack DiFalco. Tony nominee Moisés Kaufman ("I Am My Own Wife") directs.
What's Second Stage? Second Stage is a long-running producing organization with a recently redesigned Off-Broadway theater in the heart of the midtown theater district, and a smaller space (the company's original home) on the Upper West Side. Established as a 'Second Stage' for shows that didn't find an audience the first time around, the company now combines revivals with new work, and several of its shows have recently made the jump to larger houses across the street. The fare is sometimes a bit racy, but often very approachable...call it quirkiness with an edge. More here.
Long-winded but deeply-felt...Urie masterfully combines his nimble comic abilities with an exposed vulnerability. His combative scenes with Ruehl make for compelling family drama. While "Torch Song" lacks the brilliance of "Angels in America" and the bite of "The Boys in the Band," it is well worth a second look. And though at times it can be rather clunky and schmaltzy, Kaufman's production contains some genuinely beautiful moments and excellent performances all around.
Okay, so the slippers fit better than the roles that were custom-made way back when...And no some of the gags don't land. Director Kaufman and Fierstein have streamlined things, not ideally but smoothly enough. The play's connective tissue was always more spirit than plot anyway. And even with the cuts, "Torch Song" seems like the pal you haven't seen in ages, forgotten charms resurrecting themselves before your eyes. As if to confront and wrestle down any datedness head-on, Kaufman and his cast go broad. Like, vaudeville broad.