Gals and Dolls: Queering up Broadway

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This Thursday, the live staged version of Peter Pan will air on NBC, starring Allison Williams, Christopher Walken, Kelli O’Hara, Christian Borle and many more. When pics first appeared of Allison donning her Pan apparel (and alternative lifestyle haircut), the queer internet was all a twitter. The role of Peter Pan has traditionally been played by a woman, as the vocal range is written for a mezzo-soprano/belter, Mary Martin being the most famous of the Pans. However, there has always been something subversively queer about Peter Pan, which was likely not the intention. Nearly every queer woman I know has affection for Peter Pan, because in a way, it’s like seeing a little bit of yourself on the stage. Peter has a thing for Wendy, and for gay girls, it wasn’t difficult to see this crush as queer.

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Which brings up another point: The Broadway stage has not exactly been particularly inclusive of lesbian, bisexual and queer female characters. Yes, we do have RENT, but Maureen and Joanne hardly fill the void for the dearth of queer women on stage. However, the tide may be turning. The currently running If/Then does have supporting lesbian characters played by the Tony Award winner LaChanze, and out queer actress Jenn Colella. Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdels memoir, was a smash hit off-Broadway and opens this spring on Broadway. The musical features numerous queer leading characters, and has one of the richest scores in years.

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While these shows are terrific, I think we should be reaching for the stars. Why settle for a handful of shows with lesbian/bi/queer characters, when we can queer up a bunch of already established Broadway favorites? Why don’t we modernize them a bit too, while we’re at it? (Broadway can get a little stuck in its ways.)

Gals and Dolls: Skye Masterson, a real ladies lady and internet gambler, meets and falls for Sgt. Sara Brown, who leads the Save-A-Feral Cat Mission. Natalie Detroit and Adelaide also have a tried and true love story. Adelaide, a Brooklyn burlesque dancer sings the sure to be famous “Take Back Your Mink (Because Fur is Murder)” as part of her act, while Natalie is busy holding craps games in the broom closet of the Cat Mission. Sara and Adelaide sing the show stopping “Marry The Wo’Man Today Since it’s Now Legal in 35 States” and finally do indeed, marry their gals.

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West Side Story: Toni (Antoinette) is a reformed bad girl, who is trying to straighten up (well, not exactly) and fly right. When she meets Maria at the school dance, it’s like a Juliet and Juliet, love at first sight thing. While Tegan and Sara blares from the speakers, the rest of the world just falls away. Sure, their cliques don’t like each other, but that’s what happens when you’ve all dated each other at some point. Instead of a violent ending, Toni, Maria, Rickie, Bernarda and Anita all sit down and process their feelings. The show ends with all five of them opening up an artisanal café in Williamsburg. America!

Grease: Dani Zucko and Sandy have a summer romance, then come face to face in the fall semester at their all girls high school. Dani wears her T-Bird jacket with her uniform kilt, and Sandy is still “Hopelessly Devoted” to her. They come out about their romance at the fall festival, wearing their American Apparel faux leather leggings. Nobody cares except Rizzo, who is eventually distracted with a hickey from (Helen) Kenickie.

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Once: Seriously, how was once not originally about a Irish lesbian folk singer who is good with her hands? Just imagine “Falling Slowly” with two female voices. Even the Indigo Girls would be proud. They join a band together, and like an impulsive lesbian, “Gurl” totally buys a piano for “Girl.” It’s just an analogy for U-Hauling it. Sure, they are star crossed and don’t end up together, but it’s the journey, man.

Chicago: Roxy Hart and Velma Kelly realize that they prefer doing the old “Razzle Dazzle” together, and become prison wives. It’s like Orange is the New Black, as staged by Bob Fosse. Jazz hands have a whole new meaning now.

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The Bridges of Madison County: OK, while Steven Pasquale was pretty brilliant in Bridges, what if it had been Sutton Foster as the adventurous-yet-guarded National Geographic photographer that sweeps Italian housewife Francesca off her feet? Someone, get me a glass of cold lemonade before I pass out. The song ”Who We Are and Who We Want to Be” would pack an even bigger emotional wallop.

The King and I: Mmmm, serious butch/femme realness right here. “Shall We Dance”? Yes, we shall.

Starlight Express: This bizarre Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is about trains that fall in love and actors wearing roller skates. Screw that. Lose the trains, keep the skates and turn it into a Roller Derby love triangle between Burn-adette Beaters, Patti LuPound, and Chita Shiv-era.

Wicked: Well, this one is already pretty gay.

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What Broadway musicals would you like to see all queered up?

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