Almost 40 years after its off-off-Broadway premiere, Torch Song wraps a successful Broadway run at the Hayes Theatre this weekend, before beginning a national tour. Written by Harvey Fierstein, this timeless story of love and acceptance has touched a new generation with a revised adaptation featuring Michael Urie and Mercedes Ruehl.
Set in New York during the ‘70s and ‘80s, Urie stars as Arnold, a gay Jewish man dealing with life, love, and loss. As the years go by, he continues struggling to gain acceptance from his mother (Ruehl) while raising his own gay teenage son, David (played by Broadway newcomer, Jack DiFalco).
Although DiFalco got a taste of the Broadway stage as Hank in Marvin’s Room, he’s since joined the Torch Song cast from its off-Broadway revival in 2017 before bringing it to Broadway in 2018. “It’s about your brother and your sister and your cousins. Everybody has someone to relate to in the show,” he tells OUT, looking back on the production.
During the show’s run, he’s come to think of his castmates as a chosen family. “I’ve developed all these attachments and bonds with these people, and they became my family,” DiFalco adds.
As a young gay actor, it’s quite the chosen family to be part of. With Fierstein and Urie at his disposal, he’s taken their wisdom to heart.
“Working with these high-grade actors, you see them do things, and you don’t mimic them but you find your own way of doing it yourself,” he says. “Harvey’s just always chock full of advice. He said something to me once that really stuck with me. He said, ‘If you go out there on stage, and you don’t embarrass yourself, you’re doing it wrong.’ And that's just something that I kind of live by now.”
It’s important advice for a show that has touched so many hearts for people of all generations. Decades after its original run, it remains relevant with the human experience it portrays. But DiFalco finds its political significance just as important.
“With this show, we're just kind of trying to change that course, because with the current political standing that we're in, it’s like taking a step back,” he says. “I think we're trying to change people's minds and not repeat history.”
As Torch Song takes its final bow on Broadway this weekend, Urie prepares to take the show on a national tour. Although DiFalco’s time as David is ending for now, he says he’ll soon return to the stage in another show that’s yet to be announced. He only hopes to continue playing roles that have the same impact as David.
“I just hope and pray that I keep getting to work on shows that mean a lot to people, that affect people and change how people think,” he says. “I think it is very important to explore every side of yourself and to show the world who you are and make people understand that it's okay to be who you are.”