Still burning bright
Written by Harvey Fierstein
Directed by Stephanie Nachamie
The Gallery Players (www.galleryplayers.com)
14th St., Brooklyn (718-595-0547)
Equity Showcase (Closed)
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh
is a seminal play about homosexuality. It is both funny and poignant, if long. The
Gallery Players did a fine job reviving it with a stellar cast.
plot of Torch Song Trilogy basically follows a relationship between two
gay males, Arnold (Seth Rudetsky)
and Ed (Brad Thomason). Arnold is a drag queen, and also
pretty stereotypically queeny – proud and affirmed in his sexual preference. On
the other hand, Ed is closeted and ashamed. As the play commences, Ed breaks up
with Arnold to date a woman, Laurel (Andrea Wollenberg), which he feels is much more acceptable. The
scenes in Act One are punctuated by Lady Blues (Yolanda Batts) who sings torch songs between scenes to elevate the
emotional pain Arnold is feeling.
Two takes place at a country house retreat. Laurel and Ed, now married, have
invited Arnold up for the weekend. He brings the young model, Alan
(Andy Phelan) he has been dating. Much
conflict ensues. Act Three takes place five years later. Arnold has recently adopted a son,
David (March Tumminelli), and his
mother, Mrs. Beckoff (Laura Sommer
Raines) comes to visit. Again, much conflict ensues.
play is extremely honest and well-written. There is so much emotional depth and
sincerity that it is impossible to not connect to at least part of it. The
dialogue is all very real; it never feels forced. It is no surprise that it
took home many Tony Awards in 1983, including Best Play.
cast was exquisite. Seth Rudetsky
took the part of Arnold, originally played by
Fierstein, and completely made it his own. He vacillated from joking to deeply
emoting with great skill, never missing a beat. It was a very impressive
performance. The supporting players were all very good, as well. Yolanda Batts sang all of the torch
songs in the first act with fierce passion. Brad Thomason waffled well emotionally bringing truth to his role. Andrea Wollenberg was believable as the
needy wife, who settles even though she knows her husband is in love with
another man. Andy Phelan was sweetly
charming as the model. Marc Tumminelli
was sufficiently bratty yet vulnerable as the son. Finally, Laura Sommer Raines was nagging but
caring as Mrs. Beckoff.
Nachamie kept the show moving; he made good use of the set. Speaking of, the
set by Craig M. Napoliello was monstrously
and impressively detailed. It completely changed with each act and cleverly had
different playing areas, so that changes during the acts themselves were sparse.
Dan Gallagher created ample lighting
to produce different moods and times of day. Kathleen Leary’s costumes were functional and realistic. Brenna Sage’s incidental music helped
transition the scenes nicely.
the Gallery Players’ production of Torch Song Trilogy was highly
entertaining as well as moving. It is highly recommended especially for those
who have never seen this touching, truthful play.
2006 Seth Bisen-Hirsh
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