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VIDEO FLASHBACK: TORCH SONG TRILOGY Introduces Harvey Fierstein To Broadway and The World

They couldn't give away tickets to Harvey Fierstein's TORCH SONG TRILOGY when The Glines produced it Off-Broadway after an initial run at La MaMa. Closets were securely closed in the early 1980s and the only drag performers most Americans enjoyed were openly straight clowns like Milton Berle who donned feminine attire as a gag.

But the pioneering Fierstein made one of the first very public steps towards the acceptance of cross-dressing. Emmy-winning star Wayne Brady, who is straight, recently took over the lead role of cross-dressing Lola in KINKY BOOTS, for which Fierstein wrote the Tony-nominated book. It's not the first time a straight actor has played a cross-dressing role penned by Fierstein, but it's a little bit different this time because Lola is such an overtly sexual character played seriously, instead of for campy laughs.

It's an exciting week for Harvey Fierstein. December 2nd is opening night for London's Menier Chocolate Factory revival of FUNNY GIRL, for which the playwright has revised Isobel Lennart's often-criticized book and on the 3rd his adaptation of William F. Brown's book for THE WIZ gets its premiere when NBC broadcasts THE WIZ LIVE!, a production that has already been announced for Broadway in 2017.

Let's take a look at this talented actor/writer's initial taste of stardom, first with the opening monologue he penned for TORCH SONG TRILOGY, shown here in the 1988 film version, and then with his 1983 Tony Award acceptance speeches for Best Actor and Best Play.

In 1983, they thought it would be fun for the actors presenting awards to wear the costumes from their Broadway shows.

When TORCH SONG TRILOGY won the Tony for Best Play, it was a huge moment in theatre history when producer John Glines thanked his partner and lover, Lawrence Lane.

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From This Author Michael Dale