On This Gay Day: Actor Harvey Fierstein was born

Actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein was born in 1954

Harvey Fierstein was born on this day in 1954. He is known for his award winning theatre work Torch Song Trilogy, and for writing the books for the musicals La Cage aux Folles, Kinky Boots, and Newsies.

Alongside his work as an actor Fierstein is also a successful actor. He won the Tony Award for a Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Edna Turnblad in the musical Hairspray. He previously won Tony Awards for his play Torch Song Trilogy, which saw him pick up the Best Actor and Best Play trophies.

Fierstein also collaborated with Australian singer songwriter Peter Allen on his musical Legs Diamond, Fierstein wrote the book for the 1988 musical which was considered one of Broadways greatest commercial flops.

On screen he appeared in the film version of his own work Torch Song Trilogy, as well as having memorable roles in Mrs Doubtfire, Bullets Over Broadway, Independence Day, alongside providing the voice of Yao in Disney’s animated film Mulan. 

More recently Fierstein wrote and starred in the one-woman play Bella Bella which saw him playing American politician Bella Abzug. He’s also written the screenplays for television musicals The Wiz – Live, and Hairspray – Live. 

Playwright Peter Shaffer died on this day in 2016

Playwright Sir Peter Shaffer died on this day in 2016, he was 90 years old.

Shaffer is best known for the play Equus. The story of a troubled young man who discusses with a psychiatrist why he has blinded several horses caused controversy upon it’s original release and continued to challenge audiences for decades.

Alongside Equus Shaffer is also remembered for his play Amadeus, the story of the rivalry between Wolfgang Mozart and the lesser known composer Antonio Salieri. The play was adapted for the screen and became an Oscar winning film.

Shaffer’s work often touched on themes of homosexuality and featured characters who fell outside ‘the norm’.

The playwright ‘s first work The Salt Sea was presented by the BBC in 1954. His big break came in 1958 when his play Five Figure Exercise was directed in the West End by Sir John Gielgud. The play also found success on Broadway and was adapted for a film.

Shaffer’s next project was a double bill The Private Ear / The Public Eye which starred Kenneth Williams and Dame Maggie Smith. Shaffer would work again with Smith in the late ’80s writing the play Lettuce and Lovage especially for the actress. After a history making run at The Globe Theatre, the play moved to Broadway and Smith won the best actress Tony award.

In 1973 Shaffer’s best known work Equus premiered, the controversial play was a success around the world, but when a production visited the WA town of Geraldton in the 1970’s the show was shut down by the police. Actor  Robert van Mackelenberg spent several hours in the cells before being released.

The play was adapted into a film in 1977 which was directed by Sidney Lumet and starred Richard Burton and future ‘Spooks’ star Peter Firth.

Equus had a resurgence in popularity when it was re-staged in London in 2007. Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths took on the lead roles. The production drew widespread attention as Radcliffe appeared naked in the play, taking on his first adult acting role after a career as the boy wizard.

A Perth production in 2009 presented by the now defunct Perth Theatre Company starred Australian actor Khan Chittenden. Shaffer was awarded a CBE in 1987 and was knighted in 2001.

The first edition of OUTinPerth was published in 2020

The very first edition of OUTinPerth hit the streets on this day in 2002. Following on from previous LGBTIQA+ focused publications The West Observer and shOUT, the magazine set out to be a voice for Western Australia’s queer community.

Between 2002 and 2019 the magazine came out monthly with 210 issues being created over 17 years. Since 2019 OUTinPerth has been a fully digital experience branching out into audio and video content.

Over the two decades of our existence, we’ve chatted to some huge celebrities including Olivia Newton John, Toddrick Hall, Chita Rivera, Helen Reddy, Sir Ian McKellen, Nicki Minaj, Belinda Carlisle, Troye Sivan, Kim Wilde, and so many drag queens.

OUTinPerth has also covered the long journey to marriage equality, the battle for transgender rights, promoted greater understanding of living with HIV, and advocated for mental health and wellbeing.

The survival of OUTinPerth would not have been possible without a great number of supporters, volunteers and contributors who have helped back the magazine and web site come to life.

OIP Staff, This post was first published in 2021 and has subsequently been updated.

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