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Tonya Harding, Tragic Muse? More Works Explore a Skating Scandal

The enduring fascination with the case is, of course, fueled by ’90s nostalgia and the feverish draw, much accelerated since 1994, of watching a celebrity behave badly. But “T.” continues a longstanding conversation about Ms. Harding as a misunderstood, class-cornered dark horse to Ms. Kerrigan’s endorsement-deal princess.

Mr. Aibel said his play, like recent films about flash-point ’90s crimes (“O.J.: Made in America,” “Casting JonBenet”) tried to bring awareness to “issues of class and race and the extent to which they are determinative of life prospects,” while not “airbrushing the rough edges or the absurdity of the plan” to attack Ms. Kerrigan “and the brutality of it.”

“There’s something inherently theatrical about the juxtaposition of skating and violence, which was so intriguing to the country at the time,” said Mr. Aibel, who calls “T.” a “history play.”

“It’s an American story of people striving and trying to thread the needle of success,” he said. “In some ways it’s a very classical arc.”

Whether they’re campy or cold sober, here’s a look at how other projects are rethinking, and have rethought, the real Ms. Harding.


Margot Robbie, who will play Tonya Harding in the film “I, Tonya.”

Emily Berl for The New York Times


‘I, TONYA’ This biopic, set for release next year, will star Margot Robbie as Tonya, Caitlin Carver as Nancy and Allison Janney as Tonya’s mother, LaVona Golden. Ms. Janney, who has described Ms. Golden as “one cruel bitch,” said on “What What Happens Live With Andy Cohen” that far from avoiding the project, Ms. Harding had “been in contact with the writer for the whole thing.” She added, “I think people will feel a lot more sympathy for her.”

30 for 30 The Price of Gold Trailer Video by John samren

‘THE PRICE OF GOLD’ Part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, this 2014 documentary focuses mostly on the travails of Ms. Harding, who agreed to be interviewed. (Ms. Kerrigan did not.) Writing in The New York Times, the television critic Mike Hale called it a “crisp, smart, comprehensive account” that makes clear that “the Harding-Kerrigan story is as much about class and its resentments as it is about sports.” It’s available for streaming on Amazon.


Tonya & Nancy: The Rock Opera – Highlight 01 Video by Mark I. McNutt

‘TONYA AND NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA’ This darkly comedic piece, with music by Michael Teoli and a book and lyrics by Elizabeth Searle, had its premiere in 2008 in Portland, Ore., and has been mounted in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Ms. Searle said Ms. Harding herself attended a performance. “She got onstage, and said everyone here deserves a big applause,” Ms. Searle said. “We went out drinking with her at a pub, and she played video poker.” Ms. Searle is eyeing productions next year in Toronto and Washington.

Tonya Harding: The Musical: The Album Promo Video by Manny Hagopian

‘TONYA HARDING: THE MUSICAL’ This flat-out comedy, written by Jesse Esparza, with songs by Manny Hagopian, was a 2014 hit at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles. According to its creators, the Tonya depicted is tired of being “overshadowed by Little Miss Perfect Nancy Kerrigan and her marriage to sleazeball Jeff Gilooly.” Sample lyrics, sung by Mr. Gillooly: “Skating’s all about the dress, dress, dress/And how it punctuates your chest, chest, chest.”


Taylor Hamilton


The greeting card designer Taylor Hamilton said her cheeky artwork was meant to celebrate, not pick on, Ms. Harding. “She was an underdog,” said Ms. Hamilton, whose card company is called Tay Ham. “I know what she did was really bad, but she was super talented and she had a rough go of things.” Ms. Hamilton said the card is one of her best sellers.


The Tonya Harding Nancy Kerrigan 1994 Official Tour Video Video by Matt Viviana

‘TONYA HARDING NANCY KERRIGAN 1994’ Viviana Olen and Matt Harkins are the co-curators of this 30-piece collection of Tonya-and-Nancy-themed artworks and artifacts, which originally went on view in 2015 in the hallway of their apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The duo’s new exhibition space, to open next month in Crown Heights, will feature cross-stitched portraits of the pair by the artists Rebecca and Josh Greco. “I’d say today people are much more Team Tonya,” Ms. Olen said. “Nancy had a raw deal, too. But Tonya was a rock star. She didn’t want to fit in the figure skating box.”

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