More than 10 years ago, a small group of performers staged, produced and marketed a sold out three weekend run of Harvey Feirstein’s iconic play Torch Song Trilogy at the Dark Horse Theatre.
Jaz Dorsey, artistic director of The Nashville Dramaturgy Project, spearheaded the 2002 production that starred Mark Middleton, better known as Bianca Paige, as Arnold and included “intimate involvement” from Tim Gunnels, better known as Angelica DeVil.
“It was an amazing experience,” Dorsey reminisced. “With Bianca in the lead, we sold out the entire run at $25 a ticket without giving a single comp to anybody.”
They say lightning never strikes twice but here’s to hoping it does when Dorsey once again brings “International Stud”, the first play of the Torch Song Trilogy, to Nashville.
This time around, the role of Arnold will be played by Steve Raimo also known as Veronika Electronika. The cast also includes Canvas bartender Malachi Taylor as Ed, Torch Singers Roxie Rogers and Andrea Coleman and musical direction by Steve Kennedy. Additionally, original torch songs for this production will be provided by Francesca Blumenthal, a NYC songwriter, and Nashville artist Margee Forman.
“When I was first asked to play Arnold in Torch Song, I was blown away. It’s an amazing role with so many great things to say,” Raimo shared.
“I was familiar with the movie, but had never seen a stage production, even though Bianca Paige portrayed the role a decade ago to critical acclaim,” he continued. “I always regretted not seeing it, but now that I have taken the role as my own, I would like to think that my Arnold and hers are two different people. I'm honored to fill her shoes—literally I will be wearing a pair of Bianca's shoes in the opening scene.”
The subtle nod to Bianca is just one of many ways the current production plans to honor both Bianca Paige and Angelica DeVil, both of whom have passed since the 2002 production.
Torch Song also hopes to light the way for OutCentral as proceeds from the production (as well as a portion of sales at Play) will benefit the community resource center. “Everyone involved with OutCentral is so grateful for the support we get from our community in so many ways," said board chair Joe Morris. "This production of Torch Song will be great for audiences and will help us pay rent and other expenses. We are proud to be the recipient of such generosity.”
But that is not the only light that Dorsey hopes to spark as he directs Torch Song for the second time. Dorsey wishes to bring renewed vigor and reestablish bridges between the GLBT community and theater.
“For the last eight years, there really has not been a strong connection between the gay community and the theater community and it’s odd especially when you visit a place like New York City,” Dorsey said. “I feel that Church Street is a natural place for some great theater and we hope to reignite the interest of the clubs in connecting with the theater community.”
In order to do so, Dorsey is already tweaking his slogan “come to Nashville and go to the theater.” As Torch Song lights up Church Street, Dorsey urges the community to “go to Church Street and go to the theater.”
And we will.
Torch Song will run both May 10 and May 17 at Play at 9 p.m.. A special PRIDE performance will take place June 16 at 7 p.m.. For reservations or more information, contact The Nashville Dramaturgy Project by email at [email protected] or by phone at 615-915-0891.
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