More than a milestone

“Torch Song Trilogy” at Loft Theatre

By Brian P. Sharp

Photo: [l to r] Jamison Stern and Jamie Cordes in “Torch Song Trilogy” at the Loft Theatre through Feb. 16; photo: Scott J. Kimmins

For some, this production could be life changing. For others, it pulls on emotional heartstrings and addresses issues so real it’s hard to believe it was originally produced in 1981. Currently running at the Loft Theatre, the Human Race Theatre Company presents the Tony Award-winning “Torch Song Trilogy,” written by Harvey Fierstein.I have to say, if you don’t have plans to see “Torch Song Trilogy,” you need to make them. Don’t miss out on the emotions of this nearly four-hour production. This is the kind of show that fills you with laughter and yet allows you to cry. Who among us at some point in our lives has not struggled in some way with love and acceptance?

You might be thinking, “Wow, nearly four hours?” Well, as Katie Pees said, “It’s not a duet, it’s a trilogy!” The three acts are like three separate shows, or a miniseries. Just don’t be “one of those people” that thinks it’s just too long and leave before the final act – where everything comes together.

Under the superb direction of Scott Stoney, this ensemble works together with ease. Further, the show moves all throughout the theatre – it’s quite the experience. The set is a show in and of itself. Scott Kimmins transforms the stage into three very different living spaces, including a bedroom that contains one bed made from two full-size beds. John Rensel’s lighting design is so superb you believe you are in two separate bedrooms.

As the front of the program states, this is “a ground-breaking cultural milestone.” Why is that? We’ve come far enough to understand a world filled with a gay man – drag queen, bi-sexual married man and his wife, a hustler, a gay son and a Jewish mother, haven’t we? Why does this still need to be considered a milestone? Maybe it is because to some, there is still such hatred that kids are bullied into suicide, or people in the religious right want to say “hate the sin, love the sinner,” yet Jesus never said that! Why does this need to be a cultural milestone? This is a story that should be told over and over again, like “Sound of Music.” Maybe, just maybe, it will help teach love and tolerance in the process.

Leading this amazing ensemble is Jamison Stern in the role of Arnold. Stern plays a believable – sometimes neurotic – individual searching for love and acceptance. Everyone can relate to those moments where you are so consumed with wondering “Will the call come?” you start coming up with reasons to call yourself. Stern is so diverse, he takes you on the emotional roller coaster ride with him. When coming out for the curtain call, you can almost feel his emotional exhaustion.

Arnold’s mixed up bi-sexual lover Ed is played by Human Race resident artist Jamie Cordes. Ed struggles with the life he is supposed to lead. Is he happy? Will marrying his girlfriend fix everything? Cordes demonstrates that struggle in a very real way. There are times when you really want to hate Ed, but somehow in the end you just may like him.

Arnold’s model/hustler boyfriend Alan is played by Jon Hacker. Hacker – who was last seen locally as Curly in the Wright State University production of “Oklahoma!” – proves to not just be another pretty face and plays the role with great passion.

Playing Ed’s girlfriend/wife Laurel is Lisa Ann Goldsmith. Laurel is a product of therapy, having had other relationships end when learning her lover is bi-sexual. While trying to be everything to Ed – and giving him everything he wants – her plans backfire and continue to breed discontent. Goldsmith is energetic and believable.

Patricia Linhart – another Human Race resident artist – plays two roles: Lady Blues and Mrs. Beckoff. Linhart performs her nightclub role by singing all over the theatre, dressed flawlessly in one evening gown after the next and working the crowd, she performs with ease. Then, through the art of live theatre, Linhart shows up as Mrs. Beckoff, delivering an emotionally charged performance full of struggle and regret.

Finally, rounding out the ensemble is a Stivers School for the Arts senior making his Human Race debut, Philip Thomas Stock in the role of David. David, the gay foster son of Arnold, is placed with Arnold because it is a place where David can get the kind of role model he’s been missing. Stock delivers a fantastic performance, mixing a little bit of punk kid with tender-hearted teenager.

This is not a show to be missed. Unfortunately, this is also not a show that is often seen on the local stage. So, take this opportunity to see this amazing ensemble and this emotion filled production. You will not regret it.


The Human Race Theatre Company presents “Torch Song Trilogy” through Sunday, Feb. 16 at the Loft Theatre, 126 N. Main St. For more information, including show times, please call 937.228.3630 or visit or


Reach DCP freelance writer Brian Sharp at 

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