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“In conversation, I’ve been encouraging director Moisés Kaufman to look at the play with fresh eyes,” Mr. Fierstein said in a statement. “I would never think of rewriting the plays but have given him a newly edited text that reconceives the way I want the story told.”
He added, “Let’s see what truths we can preserve, what histories we can rediscover and what futures we can forge together.”
“Torch Song Trilogy,” which typically has a run time of four hours, tells the story of Mr. Beckoff, a torch singer in drag who longs for a husband and family — along with respect from his mother, whose visit from Florida is the heart of the play’s ending.
Torch Song Trilogy is a collection of three plays by Harvey Fierstein rendered in three acts: International Stud, Fugue in a Nursery, and Widows and Children First! The story centers on Arnold Beckoff, a Jewish homosexual, drag queen, and torch singer who lives in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The four-hour play begins with a soliloquy in which he explains his cynical disillusionment with love. he first staging of International Stud opened on February 2, 1978 at La MaMa, E.T.C., an Off-Off-Broadway theater, where it ran for two weeks. The Off-Broadway production opened on May 22, 1978 at the Players Theatre, where it ran for 72 performances. The first staging of Fugue in a Nursery opened at LaMama on February 1, 1979. Torch Song Trilogy first opened at the uptown Richard Allen Center in October 1981, produced by The Glines. On January 15, 1982 it transferred to the Actors’ Playhouse in Greenwich Village, where it ran for 117 performances, produced by The Glines. The cast included Fierstein as Arnold, Joel Crothers as Ed, Paul Joynt as Alan, Matthew Broderick as David, and Estelle Getty as Mrs. Beckoff. After eight previews, the Broadway production, directed by Peter Pope, opened on June 10, 1982 at the Little Theatre, where it ran for 1,222 performances. Fierstein, Joynt, and Getty were joined by Court Miller as Ed and Fisher Stevens as David. Later in the run, David Garrison and Jonathan Hadary portrayed Arnold, Craig Sheffer was cast as Alan, and Barbara Barrie replaced Getty. In 1983, the play won Fierstein two Tony Awards, for Best Play (with John Glines’ historic Tony speech that acknowledged his lover and co-producer Larry Lane) and Best Actor in Play; two Drama Desk Awards, for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Actor in a Play; and the Theatre World Award. The West End production starring Antony Sher, with Rupert Graves as Alan, opened on October 1, 1985 at Albery Theatre on St. Martin’s Lane, where it ran for slightly more than seven months. In late January 2009, it was revived at the American Theatre of Actors Sargent Theatre in New York City by Black Henna Productions. Directed by Malini Singh McDonald, ran as a limited engagement until February 1, 2009, with each act being performed separately on weeknights and the entire series running on Saturdays and Sundays. The cast featured Cas Marino as Arnold, Ian M. McDonald as Ed, Susan Erenberg as Lady Blues, Christian Thomas as Alan, Amie Backner as Laurel, Chris Kelly as David, and Mary Lynch as Mrs. Beckoff. The play was revived at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London in 2012, with David Bedella playing Arnold. Torch Song Trilogy was produced by Studio Theatre in Washington D.C. as part of its subscription series September – October 2013. It was directed by Michael Kahn, artistic director of The Shakespeare Theatre, also in Washington, D.C.
Fierstein adapted his play for a feature film, released in 1988. It was directed by Paul Bogart and starred Fierstein as Arnold, Anne Bancroft as Ma Beckoff, Matthew Broderick as Alan, Brian Kerwin as Ed, and Eddie Castrodad as David.