Welcome to my salute to Gay Musicals, covering musicals where the central characters and plots were gay, and limited to those whose cast recordings were commercially released. This month's show covers 1973 through 1984, and please see my September show, which brings us up to 1995.
Playlist: August 25, 2003
- celebrate (1975)
And, I've set up a special reference section of my site, to consolidate information on all the recorded Gay Musicals I could find, please visit those pages for a chronological display of the album covers and bonus pages of pics from many of them.
|On this page for most of the musicals I've set up additional pages with larger pics and much more info, so I'll direct you to "Click for More" where that's available.|
As far as my research could determine, "The Faggot" was the very first musical with a gay theme to be released commercially, in 1973. It was written and directed by Al Carmines.
In 1974 there was a theatre company formed called T.O.S.O.S., which stood for "The Other Side of Silence." Doric Wilson led the way with that company and it was the first professional company started with the purpose of dealing openly with the gay experience. It's first production was "Lovers: The Musical That Proves It's No Longer Sad To Be Gay." It was quite a success and had several productions mounted over the next couple years.
On tonight's show I feature an interview with Zecca Esquibel (right, 2003 photo) who was a cast member of the first production, and gives much insight to the dynamics of that new company.To far right is Zecca (who then went by Joe) with David Fernandez (right) as pictured in an 'David Magazine' article from August 1974.
"In Gay Company"
In 1974 Fred Silver wrote one of the most popular early gay musicals, "In Gay Company," which was primarily a revue. It was not recorded until 1984, and that cast (below) featured Beverly Bremers. To the right is the original LP cover, with the CD reissue shown under it.
"Boy Meets Boy"
From 1975, the musical "Boy Meets Boy" was another big hit, with many productions staged over the years. Written by Bill Solly and David Ward, the story takes place in the 30's in London and Paris, with all the aspects of a screwball musical comedy. It's the only musical I know of that had two cast recordings released. In 1978 the first was produced by the Actor's Playhouse, in New York City. And the next year Out & About Productions in Minneapolis released theirs, and LP complete with a gatefold cover.
John Glines in 1977 brought us a musical about the trials and tribulations of a gay lifeguard. He went on in 1983 to win a Tony Award for producing "Torch Song Trilogy." I don't believe the cast recording was released for sale, but three tracks from it can be found on the excellent 1996 CD "Family Jewels: Gems of the Rainbow Stage." That essential release features 23 songs from 10 historic gay musicals. The pic below comes from a magazine ad for the musical.
"Side by Side By Sondheim"
Although one of culture's most valuable assets is Stephen Sondheim, he's never written a "gay" musical. The closest we come is a number from the 1976 London Cast Production of "Side By Side By Sondheim," with David Kernan (below) doing a gender twist on "Could I Leave You?" from "Follies."
The subtitle for "Sparkles" (1981) was "The Ultimate Fairy Tale" and it opened in June of 1981 at L.A.'s Pan Andreas Theatre. Chuck Zinn produced, directed and choreographed it, and Michael Lewis is credited with the book and lyrics. It's a musical comedy fantasy, with Oz-like lessons to be learned about the joys of being ourselves. The show's Star, with the help of singing flora and fauna, help our heroes on their journey amid contrived obstacles.
Barry and George Hearn
Gems of the
"I Like Me Like This"
In 1974 there was a theatre company formed called T.O.S.O.S., which stood for "The Other Side of Silence." Here's a rarity, a lesbian musical. In 1979 the Gay Sweatshop Women's Company in London produced the show "I Like Me Like This," a very serious show, with generally heavy subject matter. At right are four of the cast members.
The Falsettos Trilogy
In 1979, William Finn (above) began his very successful "Falsettos Trilogy" with "In Trousers," a story about a confused bisexual, Marvin, who has a wife, Trina, and son named Jason. Through the play he works his way through much anguish, and finally leaves them to be with another man, Whizzer.
in "Falsettoland" (1990) Marvin's son Jason is ready to be
bar mitzvahed, and Marvin learns that his lover has come down with
"La Cage Aux Folles"
"Let My People Come"
"Let My People Come," from 1974, was not a 'gay musical,' but a 'sexual musical' and featured two or three songs that were specifically gay or lesbian lyrically. From the cast Martin Duffy and Joe Jones (pictured below) sang "I'm Gay"
David Fernandez (above right) and fellow cast member Sean Delaney later were members of the disco group Skatt Brothers, who gave us the dance hits "Life At The Outpost" and "Walk The Night," from 1979.
Gallegly and Joe Barrett of the cast of "Boy Meets Boy." Below,
the Minneapolis cast LP, and to its left, the reissue of the Actor's
McCarthy Is Alive
"Joseph McCarthy Is Alive And Living In Dade County" was 1977's answer the the question, "Why is Anita Bryant doing this to us," with its mix of comedy skits and music. The cast included cabaret performer and songwriter Amanda McBroom, who wrote "The Rose."
The story continues with "March of the Falsettos" in 1981 with Marvin wanting to be with his lover, Whizzer, and not wanting to lose his family. He ends up losing everyone, complicated by his psychiatrist, Mendel, eventually marrying Trina. Much of the story is of his son, Jason, dealing with having a gay father.
A combined version of parts 2 & 3, "Falsettos" won two Tony Awards and five nominations in 1992.
"La Cage Aux Folles" (1984) was the most famous and successful gay musical ever on Broadway. It recreated the story from the 1979 French film, and won every Tony Award in sight, including Best Musical, Best Director (Arthur Laurents), Book (Harvey Fierstein), Score (Jerry Herman), and Actor (George Hearn) and Costume Designer (Theoni V. Aldredge). Gene Barry was also nominated for Best Actor. Its anthem, "I Am What I Am" is one of the few songs from a gay musical to go on to a life of its own, being recorded by a number of artists.
Click to go to Part 2 of my tribute to Gay Musicals