In Harvey Fierstein’s Tony Award-winning, landmark play Torch Song Trilogy, Arnold Beckoff comes by his blues honestly; he knows what it is to long for love. Tired of trawling New York’s gay bar backrooms, and armed with fierce humor, Arnold faces commitment-shy men, a hostile world, and his formidable mother as he tries to find a family on his own terms.
Fierstein created Torch Song Trilogy as a series of one-act plays that individually premiered Off-Off Broadway at La MaMa ETC beginning in 1978. The three plays were then united under the umbrella title Torch Song Trilogy and presented Off Broadway in 1981. Hailed by The New York Times as “an infinitely rewarding evening,” the production transferred to Broadway in 1982, ran for 1,222 performances, and won Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Actor.
I traveled to Washington DC to see The Studio Theatre’s critically-acclaimed revival on October 3, starring Brandon Uranowitz (Broadway’s Baby, It’s You) as Arnold, Obie Award winner Gordana Rashovich (Roundabout’s The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore) as Ma and Todd Lawson (The New Group’s One Arm, Broadway’s Summer and Smoke) as Ed, Alex Mills, last seen at Studio in 2ndStage’s 2-2 Tango, as Alan, Helen Hayes Award nominee Sarah Grace Wilson (Studio’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) as Laurel, Michael Lee Brown as David and Ashleigh King (Studio 2ndStage’s Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show) as Lady Blues, under the taut direction of Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Theatre Company. It was a night of laughter and tears for me; I highly recommend you catch this evening of superb theater.
Performances for Torch Song Trilogy at The Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St NW in Washington DC, have been extended through October 27, 2013. Click here for tickets.
Ms. Rashovich appeared in the Broadway productions of Old Acquaintance, Cymbeline and Conversations with my Father. She received a Drama Desk nomination and Obie Award for playing Luisa, a Holocaust survivor in A Shayna Maidel (Westside Arts Theatre), a role she also played to acclaim in Los Angeles, where she garnered the L.A. Drama Critics Award and the Drama Logue/LA Weekly Award. Her New York stage debut in Fefu and Her Friends (American Place Theater), resulted in a Theatre World Award. Other Off-Broadway credits include: The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here, The Road to Mecca, The Crucible (Roundabout Theatre Company), Not I (EST), Mr. Melancholy (NY Stage and Film) and The Persians (National Actors Theatre/The Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University). Her regional credits include: Maria Callas in Master Class (Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Denver Center Theatre Company DCTC, Arizona Theatre Co.); Madame Ljubov Ranevsky in The Cherry Orchard and Miss Van Huysen in The Matchmaker (Drama Logue) (ACT), Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest , Lady Torrance in Orpheus Descending (Alley Theatre); Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire (Players Theatre of Columbus); Queen Elizabeth in Richard III, Emilia in Othello, Marie in WOYZECK, Irene Livingston in Light Up The Sky, Morocco (Hartford Stage); Olivia in Twelfth Night (Guthrie Theatre); Mrs. Meany in A Prayer for Owen Meaney; Regina in The Little Foxes, Esme in Amy’s View, Kate in Cripple of Inishmann, Gertrude in Hamlet, Yelena in Uncle Vanya (Denver Center Theatre Company DCTC); and Miss Holroyd in Bell, Book & Candle, Dr. Wu/Sir. Lionel in Shanghai Moon, Sally Cato/Agnes Gooch in Auntie Mame, both opposite Charles Busch (Bay Street Theatre). Her television work includes “Law and Order” “Law and Order SVU,” “Conviction,” “The Wire,” “Mad Men” and Jadwiga in the “Whoopi” Series.
Harvey Fierstein is the author of Kinky Boots (Tony Award nomination), Newsies (Tony Award nomination), Torch Song Trilogy (Tony, Drama Desk, and OBIE Awards), La Cage Au Folles (Tony and Drama Desk Awards), A Catered Affair, Safe Sex, Legs Diamond, Spookhouse, and Flatbush Tosca, among others. As an actor, Fierstein is known for his performances in films like Mrs. Doubtfire and Independence Day, on stage in Hairspray (Tony Award), Fiddler on the Roof, La Cage aux Folles, Torch Song Trilogy (Tony Award) and in television shows such as “How I Met Your Mother,” “American Family,” “Cheers’ (Emmy nomination), “The Simpsons,” and “Nurse Jackie.” His political editorials have been published in The New York Times, TV Guide, The Huffington Post, and broadcast on PBS’s “In The Life.” His children’s book, The Sissy Duckling, is published by Simon & Schuster, and the HBO film version received the Humanitas Prize.
The production, directed by Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Theatre Company, marked his directorial debut at The Studio Theatre. “I’m thrilled to welcome Michael to Studio for the first time. We’ve been searching for the right project for him to direct here for a while,” says Muse, who cites Kahn as his mentor. Muse worked with him for seven years as Associate Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Theatre Company prior to joining Studio in 2010. “The play is ambitious in scope yet feels distinctly intimate, and requires the brave, nuanced performances that Michael is renowned for eliciting.”
During his tenure as Artistic Director, Michael Kahn has led The Shakespeare Theatre Company to national and international prominence, including receipt of the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award. He is the former Artistic Director of the American Shakespeare Festival, The McCarter Theater, The Acting Company, and Chautauqua Theater Company. From 1992-2006, he was the Richard Rodgers Director of the Drama Division of The Juilliard School, where he was a leading member of the faculty since its founding in 1968. His numerous theater and opera productions have been seen on Broadway, Off Broadway, regionally, and internationally in Australia, Egypt, and Greece. He was recently inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame and invested as a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. Mr. Kahn’s upcoming directorial projects include the world premiere of Paul Downs Colaizzo’s Pride in the Falls of Autry Mills at Signature Theatre and both parts of Henry IV, starring Stacy Keach, at The Shakespeare Theatre Company.
The creative team includes frequent Kahn collaborators scenic designer James Noone, lighting designer Peter West, and costume designer Frank Labovitz. Eric Shimelonis, whose recent Studio credits include The Motherfucker with the Hat, An Iliad, and Time Stands Still, will serve as sound designer, composer, and music director for the production.
Where: The Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St NW, Washington DC 20005
Dates: September 4-October 27, 2013
Performances: Tuesday-Sunday, 7:30pm
Matinees: Saturday and Sunday, 2pm
Ticket Prices: $39-$85
Click here for tickets.
• PostScript: Tuesday, October 15 at 7pm
A new series of candid and invigorating conversations, like a book club for plays.
• Captioned Performance: Wednesday, October 9 at 7:30pm
• Audio Described Performance: Sunday, October 13 at 2:00pm
THE STUDIO THEATRE
Now in its fourth season under the leadership of Artistic Director David Muse, The Studio Theatre is Washington’s premiere venue for contemporary theatre, “where local audiences will find today’s edgiest playwrights” (Variety). Muse is joined by Keith Alan Baker, Managing Director/Artistic Director, 2ndStage; and Serge Seiden, Producing Director. One of the most respected midsized theatres in the country, The Studio Theatre produces the work of today’s greatest writers, augmented by occasional productions of modern classics, performed by acclaimed actors in intimate spaces. Throughout the Theatre’s 36-year history, the quality of its work has been recognized by sustained community support as well as with 303 nominations and 60 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in professional theatre.
Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia recently starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes, Marcus Naylor and Phynjuar.
Other articles by Lia Chang:
A night out with Gordana Rashovich, Flora Goforth in The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore
Photos: Alan Cumming, Sutton Foster, David Pittu, Jarlath Conroy and Gordana Rashovich at Charles Busch’s Judith of Bethulia
Center Stage Photo Preview: Denise Burse and Michael Genet in Marcus Gardley’s dance of the holy ghosts, Opens October 16, 2013
Photos: Backstage Q & A with Thom Sesma and the cast of Signature’s Miss Saigon
Spotlight on Shanghai Moon’s Thom Sesma
Photos: André De Shields, Mary Zimmerman, Akash Chopra, Richard M. Sherman, Kevin Carolan, Larry Yando, Nehal Joshi and More Celebrate The Jungle Book Opening Night at Huntington Theatre in Boston
Spend an Evening with Tony Winner Nikki M. James at Joe’s Pub on October 21, 2013
Photos: Opening Night of Will Power’s Fetch Clay, Make Man with John Earl Jelks, Richard Masur, Nikki M. James, K. Todd Freeman, Ray Fisher
Oct. 5-Nov. 17: LTC3/Lincoln Center Theater’s World Premiere of JC Lee’s LUCE Features Olivia Oguma, Marin Hinkle, Neal Huff, Okieriete Onaodowan and Sharon Washington
National Black Theatre Festival Photos: Backstage with André De Shields, Marie Thomas, Erin Cherry, Sean Phillips and Morocco Omari in Knock Me A Kiss
Production Photos: Primary Stages Presents World Premiere of Eric Simonson’s Bronx Bombers Featuring C.J. Wilson, Francois Battiste, Chris Henry Coffey, Richard Topol and More at The Duke on 42nd Street, Opens October 8, 2013
Photos: Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Phylicia Rashad, John Earl Jelks, Leslie Uggams, Anthony Chisholm, S. Epatha Merkerson, Taraji P. Henson, Jesse L. Martin, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Kenny Leon and More Set for August Wilson American Century Cycle Recording Series at The Greene Space in NY, Aug. 26-Sept. 28, 2013
Photos: All-Access Pass to August Wilson’s Two Trains Running with John Earl Jelks, Harvy Blanks, Chuck Cooper, Anthony Chisholm, Owiso Odera, Roslyn Ruff and James A. Williams
Photos: Backstage with Michi Barall and the cast of Regina Taylor’s stop.reset. at Signature Theatre
Febone1960.net Review: Power Play Powerful & Suspenseful
Oct. 9 – Nov. 17: Denise Burse and Michael Genet Star in Marcus Gardley’s dance of the holy ghosts at Center Stage
Photos: Denise Burse, Lizan Mitchell, Novella Nelson, Arthur French at Regina Taylor’s stop. reset with LaTanya Richardson Jackson at Signature
Signature Theatre’s 2013-14 Season Features New Works by Albee, Hwang, Enos, Taylor, Wilson, Clarke and Jacobs-Jenkins
Photos: The 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards and After Party
Photos: Charles Smith’s Knock Me A Kiss Starring André De Shields Featured in Encore Performances at The National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, July 30-August 1, 2013
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.