Great Weird Way

A Queerty YouTube Anthology of Bizarre Broadway


Once upon a time, Broadway was the exclusive domain of nice blue-haired ladies from the Upper East Side and gays who needed something to do after a hard-day of gentrifying the crappy neighborhoods they lived in. Brought together by a shared love of jazz hands, the biddies and the bohos had the Great White Way to themselves until somewhere along the line, producers decided to reach out to a wide audience (read: New Jersey). Today, you can find the Fabulous Invalid on television in film– and of course YouTube, where the Internet goes to get weird. Curtain up!

You have to wonder what sort of mind looks at their copy of The Sims 2 and says, “Finally! A way to stage my virtual production The Little Shop of Horrors!” Freed from the constraints and demands of whiny meat puppets, our would-be auteur demonstrates the future of Broadway, where audiences will thrill to holographic actors performing revivals of sure-fire hits, or perhaps a musical based on the music of The Backstreet Boys. Go ahead and steal that idea. We will sue.

You can tell the kids at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School really, really loved their production of ABBA’s bizarre 80s Cold War sociopolitical musical Chess, because they created a slide show of all their treasured memories. Then again, they set it to “Seasons of Love” from Rent, which of course, is the show they pretended they were actually in.

We could do a whole post of embarrassing Rent renditions, but Derek & Diego’s take on the lesbian power ballad “Take Me Or Leave Me” condenses everything’s that’s great/awful about these videos into perfection. Check out how Derek reflexively grabs his air mic whenever Diego invades his personal space. You could cut the subtext with a knife!

Flush with the success of Rent, The New York Theater Workshop thought it could get lightning to strike twice with this musical adaptation of Jay McInerney’s coke-splattered roman-a-clef Bright Lights, Big City. Strangely, audiences didn’t fall for 10-minute long numbers extolling the virtues of Bolivian Marching Powder that naturally segues to a chorus of “I wanna have sex tonight!” Go figure.

(NB: Your editor was an intern at NYTW when this show was first produced and it was his solemn task to keep the show’s creator, Paul Scott Goodman, flush with whiskey, throughout their annual benefit. The other interns were so jealous.)

Poor Ben seemingly slept through most of Dr. Villa’s Chem 153A at UCLA, but fortunately for us (and him), Dr. Villa offered the kind of extra credit we would give were we not barred by court order from setting foot on any college campus. Namely, she makes the monkeys dance for her benefit and Ben brilliantly delivers, with a version of Wicked‘s “Popular” that explains covalent bonds or something. Had we not gone to a fine arts school we might be able to understand what the hell he’s singing about, but hey, if you ever want to know what Being There, Anna Deavere Smith, and Marshall McLuhan have in common, we’re your guys.

While not an exclusive YouTube oddity, this music video of Björn Skifs singing “The Arbiter” from Chess is wrong in all the most delightful ways. To begin with, it’s a story song, not exactly the best choice for a Top 40 hit, ABBA sounds or not. Add to it a music video that combines the aesthetics of Tron and a Vidal Sassoon commercial and you get and 80s catastrophe that probably in the background while a younger Jay McInerney cut lines on his coffee table.

An honest-to-goodness-operetta The Beastly Bombing may already be a little dated considering it’s mostly about Bush and terrorism, but “Our Savior” the pas de deux between 43 and a lithe Jesus (played by local L.A. celebrity John Quale aka Prince Poppycock) who calls on Dubya to embrace His love is timeless.