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Jewish Theatre's production of Torch Song Trilogy full of laughter and heartfelt emotion

The story centers on a New York, Jewish, homosexual, drag queen, torch singer who struggles to cope with the tragic loss of his life partner, learns to be an effective parent to his adopted son and is forced to deal with his own mother’s intolerance.
Playbill for Torch Song Trilogy

Playbill for Torch Song Trilogy /R Lemmon

Shows dates and ticket information at Jewish Theatre

Torch Song Trilogy can be seen at GRCC Spectrum Theatre at 160 Fountain St.NE on March 8, 10, 2018 @ 8 p.m. and March 11, 2018 @ 3 p.m.  Tickets are available at Jewish Theater’s website at and are available at Grand Rapids Community College Spectrum Theater box office.

Spectrum Theatre 160 Fountain Street

Spectrum Theatre 160 Fountain Street /R Lemmon

Torch Song Trilogy, written by Harvey Fierstein and directed by Shelly Urbane, is a Tony Award-winning collection of three plays rendered in three acts. JTGR presents the last act in this play titled "Widows and Children First!"

The story centers around Arnold Beckoff, a New York Jewish homosexual drag queen, and torch singer played by Shane German. As he struggles to cope with the tragic loss of his life partner, he navigates a new relationship with a former lover played by Joe Miller, learns to be an effective parent to his newly-adopted teenage son played by Isaac J. Thornsen, and is forced to confront his mother’s intolerance and disrespect. Ma Beckhoff is played by Bernice Houseward.

Spectrum Theatre is perfect for staging a play with little action but lots of dialogue. With excellent sound and stage design, it is a small theater but allows the presentation of this play to be fully enjoyed by every audience member. The set is extremely well done; you actually feel as if you are sitting in the Manhattan apartment as the story unfolds.

Shane German’s portrayal of the main character Arnold Beckhoff is remarkable and poignant. In almost every scene for the two-hour production, he masterfully portrays his character, taking the audience on a ride on an emotional rollercoaster. The laughs generated by German with his skillfully delivered dialogue and effective body language create a sharp contrast to the painful and emotionally difficult dialogue between Arnold and Ma Beckhoff, causing many audience members to become teary-eyed.

Bernice Houseward as Ma Beckhoff is brilliant in her portrayal of the recently-widowed mother of Arnold. Cutting dialogue reveals a mother with a strong opinion of what she thinks of her son, his lifestyle, and how he should manage his life. Seldom loving, mostly combative, Houseward delivers the dialogue between Ma Beckhoff and her son Arnold flawlessly, drawing the audience into the dysfunctional relationship between mother and son.

Ed, the former lover, played by Joe Miller, is portrayed as a lost soul looking for a new direction in his life. Joe Miller’s depiction of Arnold’s old flame is effectively done and accentuates the plight of Arnold in dealing with his mother.

David, the 15-year-old gay soon-to-be adopted son of Arnold, was played by Isaac J. Thornsen. Thornsen did an amazing job of portraying an insightful young man from the streets, trying to re-establish his life with the help of Arnold as his new parent.

This is an outstanding play. The characters, the actors, the sets, the venue, the direction are all well done, and everyone who loves drama should plan to attend this play before it closes. It is an emotional rollercoaster ride you will enjoy!

Founded in 1992, Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids (JTGR) is dedicated to presenting quality theatrical productions with Jewish themes that are universal in appeal. “In doing so, we hope to enrich the Jewish experience in West Michigan, and inform, educate, and engage both the Jewish and non-Jewish community. You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy Jewish Theatre! It's live theatre to learn, love and laugh with!” For more information go to

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