Out hit-maker Jerry Mitchell, who won Tonys for choreographing Kinky Boots and La Cage aux Folles, is breathing life into another queer movie-turned-musical. Last week, Mitchell directed a private reading of But I’m a Cheerleader, a musical adaption of the 1999 film about a girl whose parents send her to an ex-gay camp run by a monstrous woman and her booty-short clad son. Natasha Lyonne, Cathy Moriarty, Eddie Cibrian and an out-of-drag RuPaul starred in the movie.
Mitchell said in a press release, “But I’m a Cheerleader is an important, fun and infectious new musical about being who you are and never being afraid of that truth. I can’t wait to tell this story.”
Cheerleader, which features a book and lyrics by Bill Augustin and music by Andrew Abrams, was seen in New York in 2005, when it received a sold-out developmental run at the New York Musical Theater Festival. Of that production, The New York Times said, “Fluffy as a pompom and savvy as an A.V.-club nerd, the new musical But I’m a Cheerleader would be just another oversold confectionary treat without its big, beating heart… [Augustin and Abrams] have improved on the original by taking its ironies seriously and giving them a bouncing backbeat.”
Given such high praise, it’s surprising there hasn’t been a full production of Cheerleader sooner in New York. But with Mitchell reviving interest in London — reports from the reading suggest that the show is in great shape — it’s only a matter of time before this little lesbian is shaking her pompoms on Broadway.
Scene It: A Queerty Guide to What’s Happening in New York
Fun Home: This new musical from composer Jeanine Tesori (Caroline or Change) and out playwright Lisa Kron (Well) is not only the gayest show in New York at the moment, it’s also arguably the best. Based on out cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir of the same name, Fun Home tells the story of the author’s fraught relationship with her closeted father (a remarkable Michael Cerveris). The music is great, the performances are excellent, and rumor has it that the show—which has extended several times at off-Broadway’s Public Theater—will make the leap to Broadway next year. ($35 student rush $20 general rush at the box office; full-priced tickets here.)
No Man’s Land: This British import, starring Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, is not without its homoerotic undertones. But the play, by Nobel Prize winning wordsmith Harold Pinter, feels interminably longer than its 90 minute run time. Yes it’s an honor to see Stewart and McKellen trade barbs in a big Broadway show, but my goodness, what happened to the plot? Spoiler alert: NOTHING HAPPENS. Yes, there are lots of laughs early on in the show, but by the 60-minute mark, I saw more heads nodding off than I could count. Apparently the company’s repertory production of Waiting for Godot is less of a snooze-fest. I’ll report back when I see it. ($30 general rush ticket at the box office; full-priced tickets here.)
After Midnight: There’s actually nothing queer about this terrific jazz revue, which I’ve queened out written about before. I just can’t stress enough how important it is to see Fantasia Barrino stealing everything and refusing to apologize. She is epic—like, Patti LuPone in Gypsy epic (ok, maybe just Patti in Sweeney Todd epic, but still). Go go go see her before she leaves the show in February. Her “Stormy Weather” still appears to me in my dreams. ($37 general rush tickets, full-priced tickets here.)
- The Heart of Robin Hood, starring out Tony-nominee Christopher Sieber, began performances at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA this week.
- The Sound of Music Live! was a ratings boon for the struggling NBC network. I predicted it would be a disaster with Carrie Underwood singing the role of Maria. I’ll eat my words and admit she sang the role well, in the original Mary Martin key, no less. As for her acting…I thought she sang the role well. NBC plans to air another family-friendly live musical in 2014. My vote is for Oh! Calcutta!
- Out writer/performer Bruce Villanch stars in Aladdin and His Winter Wish at the Pasadena Playhouse through December 29. The panto presentation resets the classic Aladdin tale to contemporary song and dance.
- Speaking of Villanch, his longtime collaborator Bette Midler recently announced that she would produce and star in a Mae West biopic for HBO. Is that a banana in my pocket, or am I just thrilled with this casting?
- Tony-winner Linda Lavin will star in out playwright Nicky Silver’s new play, Too Much Sun, off-Broadway in May 2014. Lavin and Silver previously worked together on The Lyons, which earned Lavin a Tony nomination and marked Silver’s Broadway debut as a playwright.
- Nothing to Hide, the theatrical magic show directed by out performer Neil Patrick Harris, has recouped the investment for its off-Broadway run in a remarkably short four weeks. This proves, once again, that everything NPH touches in the theater turns to gold. Can’t wait to see what he does with Hedwig in the spring.
- Nominations for the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes Awards were announced this week. Theater notables included among the nominees include Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson (who’ll star in Sweeney Todd at the New York Philharmonic in March), Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Edie Falco, and noted homophobe Alec Baldwin.
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