We know what you’re thinking: declaring any era of theater as “really gay” is like calling a Jessica Lange monologue “over-the- top.” But we promise we’re not being redundant.
Just consider Broadway’s latest crop of characters:
There’s Neil Patrick Harris taking on the titular trans rocker in Hedwig and the Angry Inch;
Stephen Spinella and Estelle Parsons playing an estranged gay son and his spitfire mom in The Velocity of Autumn;
Wicked alum Idina Menzel as a divorcée looking for a fresh N.Y.C. start with her bi BFF (Anthony Rapp) and lesbian neighbor (LaChanze) in the musical If/Then;
The return of Alan Cumming as the Emcee (opposite Michelle Williams) in the new revival of Cabaret.
And it doesn’t stop there:
Nostalgists can press rewind with the Off-Broadway musical version of the bitch-clique classic Heathers;
Or check out a very different sort of campy clique in Casa Valentina, Harvey Fierstein’s first new play in almost 30 years, about a group of hetero cross-dressers living secret lives in the 1960s.
But while Fierstein is busy excavating the past, Terrence McNally says his latest work, Mothers and Sons, is about the “new world we live in.” It centers around a pair of happily married gay dads (Fred Weller and Bobby Steggert) confronted by the angry mother (Tyne Daly) of one of their deceased lovers as she struggles for redemption.
“I couldn’t have written this play 20 years ago,” McNally says. “Being legally married gives us an equality that requires us to take our full place in the world. The real impact hasn’t sunk into the national consciousness yet.”
This spring, Broadway producers are on a queer collision course to change that.
Photo credits: Joan Marcus (If/Then). Mary Ellen Mark (Mothers And Sons). Yoshi Kametani (Hedwig). Larry Busacca/Getty Images For Tony Awards Productions (Cumming). Geoffrey Wade (Heathers). Carol Rosegg (Casa Valentina).