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Verve, originality, hard work among tenets of Malinism

Malini Singh McDonald is the kind of person who can make things happen. And what will be happening soon — Jan. 21 to Feb. 1 to be exact — thanks to Malini, is the revival of “Torch Song Trilogy,” the award−winning collection of three plays by Harvey Fierstein. It’s been 30 years since “International Stud,” the first of the three, opened Off Off Broadway at La MaMa, E.T.C., and the theater world has not been the same since.

Included in Malini’s accomplishments in theater are tours as actress, director, producer, stage manager, costume designer, prop designer, theater reviewer and publicist. A graduate of Baruch College, she received her BA in theater arts, and from the Actors Studio Drama School at The New School, her MFA in directing.

Among her credits are a renowned graduate−student production of George C. Wolfe’s “A Colored Museum,” directing locally such plays as “Look Back in Anger,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Plaza Suite,” and a number of acting roles, including one in ITV television series “The Happyrams” about a Guyanese family (her own family is from Trinidad).

Although Malini is on the board of Beari Productions (Woodhaven) and a member of the Parkside Players (Forest Hills), she’s really a Manhattan gal at heart. Born on the Upper East Side, she and her husband of six years, Ian McDonald, live in Kew Gardens, but she works in the big city (as an executive secretary at a law firm) and she spends a lot of time in town.

Five years ago she and Ian formed an independent theater company, Black Henna Productions, with the commitment to bring new, exciting and challenging theater to the public. “I always wanted to do something out of the ordinary and to put everything I could into it,” says Malini. Thus, the upcoming “Torch Song Trilogy,” to be performed at the 65−seat Sargent Theatre at the American Theatre of Actors (314 West 54th Street, between Eighth & Ninth Avenues).

Fierstein’s funny and poignant play was proclaimed by fellow playwright Charles Busch as one that “challenged both gay and straight audiences to champion an effeminate gay man’s longings for love and family.” After its downtown origins, “Torch Song Trilogy” moved to Broadway at the Little Theatre (since renamed the Helen Hayes) where it played for 1,222 performances and in 1983 won the Tony Award for Best Play, with a Tony to Harvey Fierstein as Best Actor.

The lead role of Arnold Beckoff in Black Henna’s production, the first Manhattan revival of the play in almost 25 years, will be played by Cas Marino, a critically acclaimed actor. Each act will be a separate show — “International Stud,” “Fugue in a Nursery” and “Widows and Children First!” Malini not only directs the play but is also producing and doing the brunt of publicity. However, she is quick to point out how fortunate she is “to have the love and support of all her collaborators, which makes it all worthwhile.” In particular, she praises Rene and Debbie Bendana of Beari Productions for their nurturing and encouragement.

Malini is such a force of nature that she has her own “ism,” as in capitalism or socialism. Hers is Malinism. To get indoctrinated, e−mail her at malinism @ gmail.com or visit www.BlackHennaProductions.com. Tickets for “Torch Song Trilogy” can be reserved at 646−537−1733.

Contact Ron Hellman at RBH24@Columbia.edu

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