A Brief History of Broadway Superstar: Harvey Fierstein
If you've never heard of Harvey Fierstein, it's a bit hard to explain why. A four time Tony Award winner, Fierstein has had a hand in a seemingly endless list of projects from Hairspray to Kinky Boots to Mulan. Now, he's back on the Broadway marquee with his revamped production of Torch Song.
A native New Yorker, Fierstein's mark on the theatre scene is undeniable. The original Torch Song Trilogy was comprised of three plays, International Stud, Fugue in a Nursery, and Widows and Children First! The individual plays had their own premieres until the Trilogy moved Off-Broadway and finally to Broadway. It starred Fierstein as Arnold, Paul Joynt as Alan, and Estelle Getty as Mrs. Beckoff. They were joined by Court Miller as Ed and Fisher Stevens as David.
Fierstein earned critical acclaim for the piece and sailed through the 1983 awards season gathering up trophies. The show and Fierstein won Drama Desk Awards and Tony Awards. Fierstein picked up a Theatre World Award for his Broadway debut.
The show ran for 1,222 performances beginning on June 10, 1982 and ending its run on May 19, 1985. In 1988, the Trilogy was adapted into a film directed by Paul Bogart and starring Fierstein, Matthew Broderick, Brian Kerwin, Eddie Castrodad, and Anne Bancroft.
Fierstein then returned to writing and penned the book for the ever popular La Cage Aux Folles. The musical won both the Drama Desk Award and Tony Award for best book of a musical.
In 2002, Fierstein charmed the world with his large and in charge performance as Edna Turnblad. While The New York Times described his Edna as 'touchingly humble', Fierstein's performance was declared remarkable as he won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. Watch him in action as he performs with the cast at the ceremony:
In 2007 he wrote the book for A Catered Affair which won the Drama League Award for best musical. He has also written the books of Broadway hits Newsies and Kinky Boots as well as NBC's The Wiz Live! Fierstein would also go on to star as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and Albin/Zaza in the revival of La Cage Aux Folles.
Fierstein is a face (and voice) that shows up nearly everywhere, even the Disney film Mulan in which he voiced tough guy Yao:
The limited engagement of Harvey Fierstein's revised Torch Song is currently playing at the Hayes, the same Broadway stage where the Tony Award-winning premiere forever changed the face of popular entertainment and ushered in a new era of American understanding of love and family. Fierstein passes the role of Arnold down to Michael Urie, who is joined by Mercedes Ruehl, Ward Horton, Roxanna Hope Radja, Michael Hsu Rosen, and Jack DiFalco.
Don't miss the return of the work that put the legendary Harvey Fierstein on the list of Broadway's best and brightest!
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos