Torch Song (Off-Broadway)
Closed 2h 40m
Torch Song (Off-Broadway)
87

Torch Song (Off-Broadway) NYC Reviews and Tickets

87%
(375 Reviews)
Positive
96%
Mixed
3%
Negative
1%
Members say
Great acting, Funny, Absorbing, Entertaining, Great writing

About the Show

Second Stage presents a revival of Harvey Fierstein's Tony-winning comedy. Starring Drama Desk Award winner Michael Urie ('Ugly Betty,') and Oscar and Tony winner Mercedes Ruehl.

Read more Show less

Member Reviews (375)

Sort by:
  • Default
  • Standing in our community
  • Highest first
  • Lowest first
  • Newest first
  • Oldest first
  • Only positive
  • Only negative
  • Only mixed
91
Funny, Great acting, Profound, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if You’re a friend of Dorothy...especially if like me you’ve only seen the movie and if you’re moved by gay issues, especially from the 80’s.

Don't see it if You’re homophobic or don’t care about gay subject matter.

79
Banal, Dated, Entertaining, Clever

See it if You like a period piece that was once more relevant then it is now.

Don't see it if You don't want to see something that deals with this issue.

Critic Reviews (35)

The New York Times
October 19th, 2017

"This latest incarnation of 'Torch Song'...finds an irresistibly compelling gravity beneath the glibness...Kaufman and Urie make sure we see the vital links between camp comic postures and the genuine fear and pain that lie beneath...Urie and Ruehl take the show to a level of emotional truthfulness that makes objections to ungainly construction feel beside the point...Kaufman’s stirring production propels an ostensible period piece into a vibrant present."
Read more

Time Out New York
October 19th, 2017

"A welcome and well-assembled revival of Fierstein’s plangently funny and touching play...Director Moisés Kaufman’s production retools it effectively for its new star, the different but very appealing Michael Urie...Kaufman works hard to dispel any scent of schmaltz, sometimes to somewhat dry effect; the central fight between Arnold and his Ma gets a little buried. But the overall approach seems right: It gently and lovingly tends to Fierstein’s flame."
Read more

New York Magazine / Vulture
October 19th, 2017

"Fierstein could have been a bit more merciless...'Torch Song' starts to lose steam by the end of the night. But here’s the good news: For the most part, the production feels like a case of too much of a pretty good thing. It’s charming, intelligent, and, at 40 years old, often strikingly fresh...Urie is making the character undeniably his own...It isn’t that 'Torch Song' never feels dated...But the third act’s raw, desperate explosions between mother and son feel powerfully present."
Read more

The Hollywood Reporter
October 19th, 2017

"In Second Stage's choppy revival, director Moises Kaufman and star Michael Urie battle against that past association by inflating the lead role into an emphatic caricature...Without Fierstein's own unique brand of big-hearted, sloppy sentimentality inhabiting the central character, 'Torch Song' is a more pallid ballad, bittersweet and frequently funny but lacking the vitality to fully sustain its two-hour-40-minute run time."
Read more

Variety
October 20th, 2017

“An affectionate if ill-considered revival…As imperfectly directed here by Moises Kaufman, Urie has made little attempt to make the role of Arnold his own…The trimmed-down show has kept its basic storyline but lost some of its grace notes…Arnold’s story is as sweet as ever…Does this history piece hold up? Yes, in the sense that the show is kind to its characters and true to its dated sensibilities. No, in the sense that the characters are unbelievably sweet and its sensibilities are dated.”
Read more

The Wall Street Journal
October 19th, 2017

"The only thing wrong with Second Stage’s revival, which has been very effectively directed by Moisés Kaufman, is Mr. Urie, a fine actor who is miscast as Mr. Fierstein...Mr. Urie is a whiny, slimmed-down one-note version of Arnold, thus putting him at a hopeless disadvantage when he goes up against Ruehl...It’s full of bright nuggets of truth that get lost among the punch lines. Does it still come off? Absolutely, and not just as a period piece, either."
Read more

The Observer
October 24th, 2017

“’Everything old is new again’ might as well be the theme song for ‘Torch Song’...Under the new title...I am pleased to say it has lost none of its wit, heart, wisdom, poignancy or purpose...The result seems more modern, introspective, and better shaped. The production is well-served by a terrific cast, especially Urie and Ruehl...’Torch Song’ stands as a brave, brilliantly conceived period piece...Timelier than ever.”
Read more

Deadline
October 19th, 2017

"New but not exactly fresh. It builds humorously if haltingly, through performances that push too hard...Uneven direction...The physical humor never quite works. But the hollerfest is pungent, and it’s amazing, too...Urie skates across Arnold’s words...Ruehl is fiery and on top of her game...One element he’s given surprisingly short shrift in this revision is that wrenching music...That’s what’s just off-the-mark here. What’s missing isn’t the trilogy, it’s a torch."
Read more

The Washington Post
October 19th, 2017

"With the irresistibly antagonistic Michael Urie and Mercedes Ruehl in the marquee roles, the evening feels no less moving, or weighty, than it did all those years ago...At times, the schmaltziness of the humor propels it into Sitcomland...But the framework is eternally affecting and compelling...Urie’s Arnold: It’s a brilliant comic performance, somehow managing fully to reveal both Arnold’s fragility and his power...Ruehl proves to be a scary-wonderful Ma."
Read more

New York Daily News
October 19th, 2017

"This pioneering but patchy comedy-drama of gay life and love still draws laughs and tears...The new production shows off the play’s strengths. That includes great one-liners, graceful touches and daring...But it can’t mask weaknesses of this deeply sentimental work...Urie isn't a perfect fit either...The play is an open-hearted howl for acceptance and authenticity — no apologies. The characterization...is self-sabotaging. It muffles this 'Torch Song.'"
Read more

AM New York
October 19th, 2017

"When a historically significant play about gay life and social issues is revived, the inevitable question arrives of whether the play has the durability to sustain new productions or if it is likely to remain an artifact of its time. With its clunky plot developments and uneven structure and pacing, 'Torch Song' probably falls into the latter category, but it was well worth a second look. Kaufman’s production contains some genuinely beautiful moments and excellent performances all around."
Read more

NY1
October 20th, 2017

"A painfully clear-eyed snapshot of a gay man’s life in 1970s NYC...The new "Torch Song" remains as resonant as ever...It reveals Fierstein to be more than a playwright who can crack wise. He crafts richly nuanced roles, which this excellent company plumbs to the fullest. And a big bravo to Michael Urie...Arnold’s story doesn’t seem all that dated. Fortunately, we have the sublimely plaintive 'Torch Song' with its sad old refrain to remind us how far we have yet to go.”
Read more

Theatermania
October 19th, 2017

"Bedroom politics dominate the first two acts, but the high stakes of the play come into focus during the emotional roller coaster of the third...Few actors can switch between comedy and drama and make it seem as natural as Urie does...Kaufman satisfactorily stages the plays and their clashing styles without adding much else...Despite an unremarkable production, 'Torch Song' still captivates with the strength of Fierstein's writing, which feels as fresh as ever."
Read more

BroadwayWorld
October 20th, 2017

“Urie proves a terrific choice, exuding a fluttery energy that draws you in…If director Moisés Kaufman's production slags a bit, it's because the volatile chemistry between Urie and Ruehl is lacking between the leading man and Ward Horton's Ed, which is the play's major relationship…But Fierstein wrote a gem; funny, touching, and quite noble. And with Urie at the center and Ruehl thickening the drama, this ‘Torch Song’ often sings out triumphantly.”
Read more

Lighting & Sound America
October 20th, 2017

“Fierstein has pruned the script considerably, and director Moisés Kaufman has worked with his cast and designers to make it into a more unified experience... Although definitely a period piece, the day ‘Torch Song’ can be relegated to the shelf has yet to arrive...Fierstein's fiery comedy is a vivid reminder of how far we've come -- also, that change only happens when individuals stand up and say, 'This is how I will live my life.'”
Read more

Talkin' Broadway
October 19th, 2017

“An entertaining but only occasionally stirring production...The cascade of one-liners that pour off the stage comes at the sacrifice of character development. It is not until Act II and the appearance of Arnold's mother that the play comes into its own…The laugh lines are written into the script, of course, but they are outsized here, and the overall production is the worse for its failure to take more risks by downplaying the jokes and making the characters more believable from the outset.”
Read more

Theater News Online
October 20th, 2017

“Urie works harder than almost any actor I’ve seen in any part...The one caveat, and not a small one, is that Kaufman hasn’t completely trusted Urie to make Arnold his own creation. Instead, Urie seems to have been asked at times to fall back on Fierstein’s singular rhythms and vocal delivery. These moments, sadly, distract one from the show...Fortunately, they are few and far between...Let’s all be glad that this 'Torch Song' is being sung, and that the amazing Urie is leading the chorus.”
Read more

TheaterScene.net
October 28th, 2017

“‘Torch Song’ is every bit as effective as ‘Torch Song Trilogy’ was so many years ago, when it was a brand new play with a punch. It's been directed with a surefire hand by Moisés Kaufman, who, typically, knows what he's doing, as he shuffles his cast on the stage with winning results. He also turns it into a play that shines as if it were new.”
Read more

Theater Pizzazz
October 26th, 2017

"It pulses with the vitality of Fierstein’s script and a virtuoso performance by Michael Urie as Arnold, bolstered by the rest of the excellent cast...Ruehl's timing and instincts are impeccable...Kaufman’s direction is crisp and smooth; everything flows as it should...Revisiting 'Torch Song' is like running into an old friend you didn’t even know you missed, in awe at how good it is to see them."
Read more

CurtainUp
October 19th, 2017

"A classy and distinctly modern production...The best thing about revisiting the timeless theme of unconditional, committed love that's the underpinning of all three acts is Fierstein's rapid-fire dialogue that mixes the snappy one liners enriched with moving revelations. Fortunately, the ensemble is up to landing the zingers and inhabiting their roles convincingly...Falls short of the socially relevant depth of Kushner's epic 'Angels in America.' But it's smartly staged and trimmed."
Read more

Front Mezz Junkies
October 19th, 2017

"Ruehl matches Urie’s Arnold as if they were truly related. Their entanglement is beyond explanation...The play’s true vulnerability lies in the honest depiction of its characters and their struggles with those others that hold that special place in their heart, courtesy of the exacting direction by Moisés Kaufman...It remains, most definitely and defiantly, a profound, hilarious, and deeply affecting experience. One that will be remembered for a lifetime."
Read more

T
December 1st, 2017

“The action of the truncated trilogy is uneven...The dialogue seems worn and overwrought...Under Mr. Kaufman’s careful direction, the members of cast deliver believable performances despite the stereotypical traits of each character...There are times when the characters border on becoming cartoons...The conversations reek of situation comedy. This is unfortunate...It is difficult to discern whether this misfortune is the result of Kaufman’s direction or Fierstein’s writing.”
Read more

Theatre's Leiter Side
November 9th, 2017

“Some of the material is a bit dated but, despite the plethora of gay-oriented material in the years that followed, enough remains that is still relevant to audiences today…Urie acts his charming heart out; however, for all his attempts to capture Arnold's unique qualities as a…Jewish homosexual from...Brighton Beach, Urie remains as far from Arnold as Easter eggs are from Hanukkah gelt…For New York authenticity one need only listen to Jackson Heights-raised Mercedes Ruehl as Arnold's mother.”
Read more

DC Theatre Scene
October 19th, 2017

"There’s a sheen of artificiality to much of 'Torch Song' – a patina of calculation even in some of the heartfelt confrontations — that wasn’t so noticeable before...Performances are good enough, with one exception, largely to minimize any damage caused by the moments of vintage shtick...Given such lapses into dialogue of the bada-bada-bing variety, one is grateful for the presence of Michael Urie."
Read more

The Clyde Fitch Report
October 31st, 2017

“It’s a first-rate affair under Moisés Kaufman’s typically sensitive and forthright direction...Michael Urie has inherited Fierstein’s five-dimensional role and is wonderful in it. It’s as if he’s inhabited by a whirling dervish aching to escape, a bundle of worried nerves. He cedes the stage only intermittently and he never runs out of charismatic energy...Fierstein’s fiercely, funnily honest writing remains simply paramount. He is a theatrical wonder. So is his play.”
Read more

What Should We Do?
November 8th, 2017

“This new ‘Torch Song’ is still a full-course meal of comedy and heartbreak, stuffed with Arnold’s kvetching and zingers and served by a first-rate crew of actors under the steady hand of Moisés Kaufman...The piece is divided into three parts...The final section, ‘Widows and Children First’, is the meatiest and most hard-hitting...The bell-bottom jeans and cultural references are dated, but Fierstein’s message of love and good parenting will never grow old.”
Read more

Gotham Playgoer
October 19th, 2017

"I had forgotten how ahead of his time Fierstein was in his treatment of long-term gay relationships and gay adoption and how forcefully he dealt with the importance of living an authentic life...Urie knows how to get the laughs without straining for them. It helps that he is supported by an excellent cast...The direction by Kaufman has many grace notes throughout...I was happy to find the play alive and kicking and still able to provide an entertaining evening."
Read more

The Wrap
October 19th, 2017

“It’s 45 minutes shorter than the original…That’s the good news. Late in this comedy, the lead character references those soapy Susan Hayward movies of the late 1940s and ’50s, and it must have been the thought of all those black-and-white glam tears that inspired director Moises Kaufman’s weepy staging...Making Arnold a first-class sufferer doesn’t ennoble him; it merely makes him pathetic…Ruehl’s delivery is marvelous...Urie knows how to land a line, but often prefers to detonate it.”
Read more

Stage Left
October 21st, 2017

"In Urie, this production under the steady hand of director Moisés Kaufman, has found an actor who can match the authenticity of Fierstein’s performance with a virtuosic talent that is a privilege to observe in motion...The play is both tenderly moving but also absolutely hilarious, showcasing Fierstein’s gift for comedy...This hilarious and touching production is anchored by the virtuosic Michael Urie in a star turn you won’t want to miss."
Read more

Daily Beast
October 19th, 2017

"Thank you, Mercedes Ruehl. Before the entry of her both hilarious and hurtful mother in 'Torch Song,' it can feel—as witty as many of Harvey Fierstein’s crisply written zingers are—that you are enduring a series of extended confessionals...In its early stages it feels static...We hear of things happening, we don’t see them, and that distancing distances us...Ruehl is marvelous, and helps make Urie’s performance more textured."
Read more

Towleroad
October 20th, 2017

“This triumphant and beautifully imagined revival proves that ‘Torch Song’ remains both prophetic and timeless...Urie makes the role unmistakably his own...That ‘Torch Song’ takes Arnold’s journey toward love and acceptance with all seriousness is what made it so groundbreaking more than three decades ago. Of course, the play is also funny as all hell. The cast lands punch lines and navigates nuanced emotional turns with equally exquisite rhythm, thanks to Kaufman’s finely calibrated direction.”
Read more

Newsday
October 19th, 2017

"Guided by Moisés Kaufman’s gentle direction, Urie gives a nuanced, emotional performance. Yet he wisely avoids any attempt to channel Fierstein...Urie’s gift for physical comedy keeps the first act entertaining and moving along as the story of love and loss is set up. Some might quibble, though, with his inconsistent Brooklyn accent and less-than-imposing stature...But the real heartbreaker comes in the second act."
Read more

NJ.com
October 19th, 2017

"This is a work that feels uniquely of its bygone moment, yet still manages to speak -- urgently, poignantly, often hilariously -- to concerns and anxieties of today. That's one definition of a classic...Kaufman makes the individual sections flow smoothly into a cohesive whole...Urie tackles a role singularly identified with Fierstein and beautifully makes it his own...The entire supporting cast is excellent...Unlikely we'll see a more vibrant or revelatory revival this year."
Read more

Z
October 20th, 2017

“It’s hard for me to imagine that it could have been any more enjoyable, funnier, or any more touching that this current trimmer, sleeker incarnation...A not-so-gentle reminder of how far we’ve come...But ‘Torch Song’ is not an openly political act; it’s intensely personal...Urie is one of those remarkable actors who is so exposed that you see the defiance behind the tears and the pain underneath the laughter...At the end, you are drained, moved, and thrilled. This torch lights up the night.”
Read more

Edge New York
October 20th, 2017

"This streamlined production keeps the poignant, powerful story intact, while making it a bit friendlier and forgiving for a modern stage audience...The simple, unfussy staging is perfectly suited to the action...'Torch Song' emerges as a culturally-relevant play even for our time. The subject matter can be heavy, but the director's light touch transforms it into a poignant and humorous view of a somewhat uncomplicated, pre-AIDS gay world."
Read more

Watch This Next (3)

93
Must See!
20K+ Reviews
Open run
NYC: Midtown W

In its 17th year, this all-ages musical spectacle tells the untold true story of the Witches of Oz.

Buy
82
Great
500+ Reviews
Open run
NYC: Midtown W

An actor drinks heavily (think Comedy Central's 'Drunk History') and tries to corral others into enacting a…

Buy
77
Good
112 Reviews
Ends Oct 10
NYC: Midtown W

Following a sold-out run at LCT3, "Pass Over" will come to Broadway for a limited run this August.

Buy