This article was published on December 28th, 2016
The words ‘theatre’, ‘musicals’, and ‘Broadway’ resonate with the LGBT community. The best creativity and art throughout history has come from oppressed communities, so it is little wonder that the gay community has been a strong part of modern theatre. As theatre has moved into the mainstream not much has changed; the LGBT community plays a major roll in directing, writing, starring in, and being the main storyline for all things gay on Broadway. With that in mind, and without further ado, here is what’s gay on Broadway, the ten essential musicals and plays for gay culture.
- Significant Other
Coming to Broadway in February of 2016, the critically acclaimed ‘unromantic’ comedy follows the main character through his search for Mr. Right. It is a brilliantly witty story about a search for love without being just about ‘gay’, a lovely way to highlight how far we have moved on from a time when ‘gay’ was a story line in itself.
- Kinky Boots
A fantastically sharp and brilliantly funny story about a man from a small industrial town in England who gives up his London life to take over his family shoe business only to find it floundering, a local drag queen gives him the idea of making men’s drag shoes and the rest is history! Dealing with small town attitudes in the 1980s, cross dressing, the bravery of drag and the importance of allies, it is a must see for any musical lover, specially since the music is all made by Cindy Lauper!
- Avenue Q
Avenue Q, the Sesame Street style puppet musical, has garnered international acclaim and is one of the longest running shows in Broadway’s history. The show deals with the harsh reality of being built up to believe we are special as children and then realising we are not as adults. One of the integral plot lines deals with the coming out of Rod, an anal-retentive republican banker. It takes an interesting twist on a classic coming out line as most of his reluctance and judgement comes from himself rather than the people around him, as exemplified by the un-dramatic response to his eventual coming out.
- Hedwig and the Angry Inch
With the one of the lead characters being a gender queer woman and the original Broadway adoption starring none other than Neil Patrick Harris Hedwig and the Angry Inch was a phenomenal hit shrouded in controversy from the start. Attracting both criticism and acclaim from the drag and trans communities, it follows Hedwig and her journey through a variety of issues including a botched sex change operation.
- Fun Home
The winner of five Tony awards, the hit musical features a lesbian protagonist and her gay father struggling with his sexuality. The beauty of it is that it doesn’t just focus on the gay lines; it’s about the daughter seeing her father through adult eyes and growing up.
With 16 Tony nominations, 11 wins and consistent record-breaking ticket sales, Hamilton is the hottest show on Broadway this year. Chronicling the life of founding father, Alexander Hamilton, the musical does not have a gay story line, however Javier Muñoz, an openly gay actor living with HIV and who is active in being open about his HIV status and tackling the stigma, plays the title character.
- A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Produced by the critically acclaimed Ted Snowdon, the Tony award winning play is currently touring the US to the delight of theatre aficionados. The openly gay producer, Ted Snowdon, is deserves much support, having a long history of philanthropy. Snowdon’s foundation has financially supported the gay community for years, that and the play are both amazing.
One of the most famous rock musicals of all time, and a classic within the gay community, Rent tells the story of a group of gay bohemians living in New York city at the height of the AIDs crisis and is widely regarded as being one of the most important pop culture pieces in removing the stigma attached to HIV and AIDs.
An LGBT classic, Cabaret is constantly being revived for Broadway and with good reason! The catchy songs, political themes and stunning visuals make it a delight for audiences. Toying with gender and sexual orientation fluidity, it has, since its first production, subtly pushed the boundaries of sexuality and gender norms while opening the doors to the LGBT Cabaret community to the masses.
Set to hit the Broadway stage in 2017, Indecent is inspired by the true story of an ahead of its time 1920s production about the love between two women. Highlighting the plight of the gay community and the risks they took in the 1920s to promote gay rights, it is sure to be an emotional piece and will mark the Broadway debut of Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel.