There’s no denying that queerness and Broadway have gone hand in hand since the early establishment of the American musical repertoire. Without the work, talent and imaginations of LGBT+ artists, musicals would not be selling out seven nights a week. Having said that, a number of very special productions have put queer storytelling at the forefront. Here are eight of Broadway’s queerest musicals:
Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, Fun Home follows Alison on her journey from childhood to adulthood as she navigates her sexuality and her relationship with her father, who is also gay. The musical picked up five nominations at the Tony Awards, including the award for Best Musical.
Queerest musical moment: Ring of Keys
Set in 1930’s Berlin, Cabaret focuses on the light and eccentricity of life inside the Kit Kat Club, while outside the cabaret, the Nazis begin their rise to power. Liza Minnelli, Emma Stone and Judi Dench have all played the part of leading lady Sally Bowles, while the fabulously camp character of Emcee (performed by Joel Grey and Alan Cumming amongst others) has become a favourite of Broadway audiences.
Queerest musical moment: Two Ladies
This 2006 rock musical shines a light on the interweaving stories of a group of teenagers as they come of age and explore their sexuality in late 19th century Germany. An innovative revival of the musical by Deaf West Theatre in 2015 comprised a cast made up of both deaf and hearing actors as the story is told through both American Sign Language and English.
Queerest musical moment: The Bitch of Living
Jonathan Larson’s 1996 musical about the lives of artists and performers in Bohemian Alphabet City enjoyed a 12 year run on Broadway. The musical was adapted into a film in 2005, launching Larson’s iconic queer characters into the mainstream.
Queerest musical moment: Honestly, it’s a three-way tie between La Vie Boheme A, Santa Fe and Take Me Or Leave Me.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Inundated with glam rock, high heels and general camp, this 1998 musical follows the titular Hedwig, a trans singer and genderqueer performer in East Germany. The 2014 production starring Neil Patrick Harris won four Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.
Queerest musical moment: The Origin Of Love
Based on the 2015 British film of the same name, Kinky Boots began life on Broadway as something of an underdog in the shadow of Matilda the Musical. However, the show, which tracks the unlikely pairing of shoe factory owner Charlie, and drag performer Lola, enjoyed high box office sales, before nabbing six Tony wins, including Best Score.
Queerest musical moment: Sex Is In The Heel
Rocky Horror Picture Show
No queer listicle about musicals would be complete without a nod to Brad, Janet, Dr Frank N Furter and his infamous slab. The 1975 British cult classic began life on the Broadway Stage and enjoyed early performances at the Royal Court Theatre, the Belasco and the Roxy.
Queerest musical moment: Sweet Transvestite
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Largely set in the Australian desert, this 2006 musical tale of a trans woman, two drag queens and their lavender coloured bus is deserving of the final spot on this list. Based on Stephen Elliots 1994 film, Priscilla enjoyed success in Australia before its West End and Broadway debuts in 2009 and 2011, respectively.
Queerest Musical Moment: I Will Survive
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