HomePast ColumnsAbout
Broadway Bound

Episode 34

MUSICAL THEATRE MAKES YOU GAY

September 3, 1998
Almost Midnight
The Stage
of the
Drema Paige Theatre

You're not supposed to smoke onstage.

"How did you know I was here?"

The security system, the cameras . . .

"Right. You're here late."

Yes. I . . . I wish you wouldn't disappear for days at a stretch. A lot has happened, last night and today, and I needed you.

"I heard about some of it. Bring me up to date?"

Drema's still in the hospital. They don't know why she's coughing up blood. They're running more tests. She wants to resume rehearsals next Tuesday. She says she'll be ready.

"Will she?"

Would you want to be the doctor who refuses to release her from the hospital?

"Not if I valued my reproductive organs."

Robin's spending the night with her.

"What's that little bitch been up to?"

Why don't you and Robin get along?

"I have my reasons. Lots of them. I read her interview in the Trib."

How do you think she came across?

"I liked it. It was, as she would say, immensely enjoyable seeing her making a fool of herself in print. Have you already done damage control?"

I made a few phone calls. Didn't have time for much else.

"Set up an interview for me and Annie. We'll talk about what a wonderful and talented person she is, and how easy she is to get along with. That should do it."

She fired Annie this morning. I thought Annie would have called you.

"I haven't been home. I can't say I'm surprised."

Why? What's been going on?

"Robin made a pass at Annie. Annie refused. Since then, when both of ‘em were in the same room, you could cut the tension with a knife. It hasn't been what you might call a productive work environment."

Oh dear Lord, here come the law suits!

"Maybe. Maybe not. Annie would probably forget the whole thing if she got her job back."

She never lost it. Robin doesn't have the authority to fire anybody without my prior written approval. That's in her contract.

"Interesting. So you didn't really turn complete control of Neverland over to her, did you?"

She's 19. I may be a fool at times, but I'm not a damned fool. Of course she doesn't have complete control!

"What else did you slip in her contract?"

Never mind.

"Well, in that case all you have to do is convince Annie to work with Robin again. Good luck."

I don't suppose you would -

"No. I don't want to work with Robin anymore, either. Has she told you what she wants to do with the show?"

We haven't had time to sit down and talk.

"Perhaps you should, and soon. Robin wants to make Billy Finn gay."

What?

"Yea. She wants to make it the first big gay musical."

Why?

"I don't think she knows about Falsettos. Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't musicals with gay themes been around for at least twenty years?"

Off Broadway, yes. Longer. Did she give you a reason?

"Billy and Rosalie love each other, but they don't get married and live happily ever after. In her limited experience that can only mean Billy is gay. It's no use arguing with her. I know. I've tried. If you do, she will cite her self-righteous, politically correct convictions and the vast experience with human emotions and sexuality her 19 years have provided her, and inform you that you don't know what you're talking about. She, as a teenage lesbian, of course knows everything and has all the answers."

Please tell me you're joking.

"Wish I were. But wait, it gets better!"

I don't see how.

"Instead of a dancer, she wants to make Billy a drag queen who can't find a job because he will only lip sync Broadway show music. Can you say La Cage?"

Oh, my . . .

"Oh, yes! And the whole Peter Pan angle now hinges on the fact that nobody wants to see Billy do his Mary Martin impersonation. Stop laughing. I'm perfectly serious. She's rewritten Billy's eleven o'clock number. It's now a take off on "I've Got to Crow" titled "Cock-A-Doodle- Don't," in which Billy realizes he wants a sex change operation so he can be Mary Martin. (Can't wait to hear what the critics have to say about that one.) Can you say Victor/Victoria?"

Enough! Okay, I'll have a talk with her.

"I'd do more than talk, if I were you. Put a short leash on her or you may not have any Neverland project to salvage."

You know, like her or not, she still is, at the moment, the contracted director of the project you're working on. I expect you to show her the same respect you would show anyone else you worked with. I'm sure when I -

"Believe it or not, I've tried to see things from her viewpoint. I've spent the last couple of days trying to figure out how to make the rewrites she wants work. Bob and I even ended up in a gay bar last night."

Excuse me?

"Research. Of course, according to her interview in the paper, I was arrested for attempted rape."

Yes. I wanted to ask you about that.

"It wasn't me. It was Bob."

Are you sure? Musical theatre makes you gay, you know. Isn't there something you want to tell me?

"Very funny."

Bob Fosse?

"Yea. Some guy kept hitting on him, so Bob threw a punch and one thing led to another. And he wasn't even arrested. He slipped away before the police could get their hands on him."

You were out drinking with the ghost of Bob Fosse and the two of you ended up in a fight in a gay bar, right?

"I keep telling you he's not a ghost. You're going to owe me an apology when you meet him. I've invited him to Drema's opening, and he accepted."

Okay, I'll deal with him when I meet him. Right now, let's get back to Robin and Neverland.

"You're gonna talk with her."

I'm sure when I explain the economic realities, Robin will drop the idea of turning Neverland into a gay musical without my asking her to.

"Economic realities?"

If we're only risking a million or so on an off Broadway show, then a gay themed musical is an acceptable risk. But, if we hope to move Neverland to a Broadway house, it's out of the question. It would never pay back the investment.

"What about La Cage?"

The exception that proves the rule.

"Falsettos?"

Never paid back the investment in the original run.

"Angels in America, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Corpus Christi?"

Those are plays, not musicals. No, I'm not going to allow Neverland to turn into another Hedwig. (And, by the way, Corpus Christi stinks.) The most we could do is perhaps give Billy Finn a gay best friend.

"Like Seesaw?"

Right. What is Tommy Tune doing next season, anyway?

O Solo Homo: The New Queer Performance, with witty and informative notes by editors Hughes and Roman appearing throughout, is a fine introduction to the new queer theater as well as the politics and artistic theory that fuels it.

Gay men and lesbians have always taken front and center stage in the theater. From Shakespeare's cross-dressing love interests to Oscar Wilde's witty comedies of mis-manners to Eva Le Gallienne and Mary Martin's portrayals of the androgynous Peter Pan, homosexuality and gender blending have found many manifestation in theater. In the mid-1980s, as the New York performance-art scene began to flourish, scores of queer artists launched careers in tiny storefronts, church basements, and empty lofts. By breaking down traditional ideas of "acting," and by being unafraid of dealing with queer sexual content, they changed the style, form, and substance of alternative and mainstream theater.

O Solo Homo: The New Queer Performance is a collection of scripts and texts by the most important of these performers. Some of the material is overtly sexual, as in Tim Miller's "Naked Breath" or Holly Hughes's slyly titled "Clit Notes." But the performers are often as interested in politics and culture as in sex. The late Ron Vawter's exploration of art, betrayal, and the cult of personality in "Roy Cohn/Jack Smith" is brilliant, and Peggy Shaw's treatise on what it means to be butch in a world that celebrates manliness in "You're Just Like My Father" is both deeply shocking and hilarious.

O Solo Homo: The New Queer Performance
by Holly Hughes (Editor) and David Roman (Editor)
List Price $17.50
Grove Press
ISBN: 0802135706


Back

Broadway Bound is written by Mike Reynolds


Wanna' talk to others about this column or anything else theatre related? Check out All That Chat!




Terms of Service

[ © 1997 - 2014 www.TalkinBroadway.com, Inc. ]