Show People is Broadway.com's new online talk show where Editor-in-Chief Paul Wontorek interviews Broadway stars. The latest episode is the best so far because the guest is Harvey Fierstein. Harvey Fierstein is the multi-faceted Tony Award-winning playwright and actor behind Torch Song Trilogy and La Cage aux Folles among much little or uncredited work. There really is no one else like him working consistently in the world of Broadway. From the gravely base to the sharp wit, Fierstein is a force to be reckoned with. He is not intimidating or stuck up in any way. He's just a smart, funny man with endless creative ability.
So what makes this twenty minute interview so worth watching? Lots. For starters, we learn how much involvement Harvey had in the creation of the blockbuster musical Hairspray (he basically rewrote and restructured the book, which helps to explain the failure of Cry-Baby and my own tepid response to Catch Me If You Can, which otherwise has the same creative team as Hairspray).
As if that wasn't enough, Harvey unintentionally goes into universal body image issues. Paul Wontorek shows him a series of photographs from his past and each one is met with a comment like "back then I thought I was fat in that picture" before the next photo shows him a little larger. Most shocking is when he discusses his diet for the Torch-Song Trilogy film.
Speaking of Torch-Song Trilogy, Fierstein talks a lot about his young male costars in the film. Don't you want to hear about how Matthew Broderick almost got fired by the producers for his acting style? Or the most disturbing and hilarious parenting analogy I've ever heard?
The last really impressive part of the interview is how willing Harvey Fierstein is to talk about the controversial and political nature of his work. From the raw social commentary piece Kinky Pussy (about--what else?--drag queen prostitutes in subway bathrooms) to the negative reaction to the notion of marriage in Torch-Song Trilogy and even some brief comments on Mrs. Doubtfire, Fierstein is well-read on his own material. I prefer learning about an artist who is confident enough in his identity to weather criticism than a frail little leaf who will fall apart at a mediocre review.
Carve some time out of your day to watch this great 20 minute interview. It's funny, entertaining, and enlightening.