NEW YORK (AP) — After some very successful years writing for the stage, Harvey Fierstein says he would like to be on one again.
“I’m looking for something to act in now,” the four-time Tony Award-winner said this week. But beware, writers: no gimmicks. “When somebody thinks, `Oh, that would be cute for Harvey,’ it’s probably going to bore me.”
The 60-year-old is looking for a change after coming off a remarkable Broadway season in which three of his works were onstage – Tony-winner “Kinky Boots,” “Casa Valentina” and “Newsies.”
While “Kinky Boots” is still going strong, “Casa Valentina” has closed and “Newsies” will shutter after its Aug. 24 performance. Until the right acting gig comes along, Fierstein is busy making sure the brewing national tours of both “Kinky Boots and “Newsies” get off OK.
“Of course, you keep your finger on them,” he said. “They’re your children. If you don’t stick your face in there, then what kind of parent would you be?”
The nest-leaving of “Newsies” is a particular source of glee for Fierstein, who was initially told that successfully adapting a musical from the 1992 movie starring a young Christian Bale was virtually impossible.
The idea of putting it on the stage began when Fierstein met with composer Alan Menken in his office decorated with posters of his hugely successful films, such as “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
At one point, Fierstein pointed to a poster of “Newsies” and asked whether it could be made into a musical. Menken said he and lyricist Jack Feldman had wrestled with it for decades but couldn’t make it work. Fierstein offered to try. Others tried to dissuade him, but he insisted.
Among Fierstein’s changes were the addition of a young female reporter – and a love interest – and mixing the song order. It worked: The show recouped its $5 million investment in just over nine months – faster than any other Disney stage property – and has earned more than $100 million.
“What is there better on this planet than something that everyone tells you can’t be done?” the gravelly voiced Fierstein asked, naughtily.
Now he’s hoping to add to his acting credits, which include playing Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray” and Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.” He had debated playing a role in “Casa Valentina,” but realized critics might have gotten confused. “Because, you know, they’re not that bright,” he explained, laughing.
“It’s more fun for me, in a way, to act in something I didn’t write because part of acting is to get out of your own head and to get into somebody else’s head. That’s part of the escape of acting,” he said. “If it’s something I wrote, then I’m not escaping anything.”
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