John Yi and Tommy Bo in “Snow in Midsummer” (Photo by Julieta Cervantes.)
Though certain stereotypes might suggest otherwise, the stages of New York City theater are still not packed with LGBTQIA+ representation. Progress is happening — but slowly, as always. Even in theater, straight is often the default.
However, this Pride month Broadway Blog is celebrating five shows, running both on and off-Broadway, which feature nuanced queer representation and celebrate the lives of complex LGBTQIA+ characters. Check these five shows out this June!
A Strange Loop
Michael R. Jackson’s “Big, Black and Queer” new musical, which is up for 11 Tony Awards on Sunday, explores the mess of desires and instincts battling within one Black gay writer struggling for self-acceptance.
As Broadway Blog’s critic Ryan Leeds wrote in his review: “Like Rent, it will speak to a whole new generation of Broadway enthusiasts who will be grateful to Jackson for giving them this roadmap of representation and realization….The specificity is for young, LGBTQ+ Black individuals who have fought way too hard to be heard, recognized, and respected.”
…what the end will be
Celebrated playwright Mansa Ra (formerly Jiréh Breon Holder) receives his first mainstage production at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre, following the critically acclaimed run his play Too Heavy For Your Pocket at Roundabout Underground in 2017.
…what the end will be is a story of three generations of Black, gay men living in the same home. Living at the intersection of those two identities has shaped each man’s life differently, and what it means to be Black and gay differs for them all. Weighing in on each other’s experiences, as only family can, forces them to grapple with their own. The play is a look at the similarities and differences between fathers and sons and how they exhibit patience, pain, and pride.
In director Marianne Elliott’s gender-bent take on Stephen Sondheim’s classic, Amy becomes Jamie, played in the Broadway production by Matt Doyle in a Tony-nominated performance.
Accepting a GLAAD Media Award for the show this May, Doyle said in a speech: “I’m incredibly grateful to Stephen Sondheim for allowing this work to evolve, and allowing this story of Amy and Paul to become the story of Jamie and Paul. The last time Company was revived was 2006, and gay marriage was not legal yet. Chris Harper and Marianne Elliott recognized the importance of telling the story now as we regress in this country and as terrifying legislation is passed every single day and as we hear frightening language from our Supreme Court that threatens the rights that we earned.”
Snow in Midsummer
Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s Snow in Midsummer is a thrilling murder mystery adapted from the classical Chinese drama The Injustice to Dou Yi That Moved Heaven and Earth by Guan Hanqing. Now playing at Classic Stage Company and weaving together parallel stories in a community torn apart by injustice and ecological disaster, Snow in Midsummer is a spellbinding ghost story that explores the weight of generational trauma and restorative justice.
Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s work places at its center a gay couple, Handsome Zhang (John Yi) and Rocket Wu (Tommy Bo), whose relationship turns upside down as the mystery unfolds. Snow in Midsummer presents a rare queer Asian couple on a major New York stage. See it at Classic Stage through July 9.