3 LGBT-Focused Musicals to See Now

Next month, gay D.C. theatergoers will be offered at least two must-see shows brimming with LGBT content: Ford’s Theatre’s The Laramie Project and Studio Theatre’s Torch Song Trilogy.

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 4.25.05 PM.pngBut you don’t have to wait to go to Studio Theatre in September. In fact, you might as well plan to make two trips to the 14th Street venue over the next month — the first time sometime over the next week to see Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Showas you’ve never seen it before. Studio’s production is “a brazen, hyper-sexualized reimagining of the original stage production…[where] sex, kink and extreme gender ambiguity reign supreme,” according to Metro Weekly’s Randy Shulman, writing in a cover feature a couple weeks ago. “We wanted to evoke the same feeling in 2013 that people felt seeing the movie in 1975 — which requires different things, like more sex,” the show’s co-director Alan Paul (who worked with Keith Alan Baker) tells Metro Weekly. From Collin Ranney’s fetishistic or barely there costumes to Giorgos Tsappas’s dildos built into the wall, this is not your father’s Rocky Horror. Studio Theatre has extended by popular demand the show’s run, with tickets costing $40 to $45, to next Sunday, Aug. 17.

But Studio’s The Rocky Horror Show is but one of three area musicals that those in the LGBT community should check out now. And no, one of them is not the hottest theater ticket in town. Other than one great song about the “cool little Mormon trick” of being able to repress thoughts and feelings that run counter to church teachings, there’s nothing really gay about The Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center. So about any desire you may have to see the musical? Unless you’ve already got tickets in hand, you might as well just, as the song goes, “Turn It Off.”

Instead, head to Olney, Md., to see what has been called “The best musical. Ever” — not to mention the largest musical ever produced in Olney Theatre Company’s 75-year history. The meta-musical A Chorus Line - which, like The Rocky Horror Show, also dates to 1975 – features several gay characters – it is about Broadway singers and dancers, after all – most famously Paul (here played by Bryan Knowlton), who movingly relates his personal story of inadvertently coming out to his parents when they see him perform in drag. This 38-year-old musical, which won a Pulitzer Prize and nine Tony Awards and features the songs “One (Singular Sensation),” “What I Did for Love” and “Dance: Ten, Looks: Three” (aka “Tits and Ass”), ranks as one of the gayest musicals ever, and is certainly one that all gays should see at some point in their lives. Olney Theatre and its strong production, directed and choreographed by Stephen Nachamie and extended by popular demand to Sept. 8, makes a strong case that now is as good a time as any. Tickets are $45 to $63.50.

Thumbnail image for Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 4.52.35 PM.pngFinally, those in the LGBT community should plan a trip out to Arlington to see The American Century Theater’s rework of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s I Do! I Do!, originally staged on Broadway in 1966 as little more than a star vehicle for Mary Martin and Robert Preston. TACT’s Jack Marshall explained to Metro Weekly that he worked to rejuvenate the marriage-focused musical by portraying the couple at its heart “through three different prisms: as a traditional heterosexual [pairing], as a same-sex female marriage and a same-sex male marriage.” For this season-ending production at TACT, Marshall and his co-director Tom Fuller cast four actors — two men and two women — to portray the three modern varieties of a marriage, and moved the setting from a span in the early 20th century to be “anytime, or the perpetual present.” With permission from Jones and Schmidt and a strong design time helping with the slight changes in staging, Marshall thinks TACT has succeeded “in instantly modernizing what was rapidly becoming an un-performable chestnut.” Tickets run $35 to $40 for the show, running at Arlington’s Gunston Theater Two to Saturday, Aug. 17. 


Doug Rule is a theater critic and contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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