(l to r) Drew Droege, Ramin Karimloo, Idina Menzel

The Tony Awards have come and gone, and we were all left wet (from crying, of course) from Jonathan Groff’s heartfelt speech after winning Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his performance in Merrily We Roll Along

While this season’s Broadway musicals weren’t very queer — some are asking if Broadway is dimming the lights on queer and trans characters — there were still plenty of LGBTQ+ wins, including Sarah Paulson (Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for Appropriate), Maleah Joi Moon (Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for Hell’s Kitchen), and Lifetime Achievement Awards for George C. Wolfe and Jack O’Brien. 

But there was drama offstage, too, when Andrew Rannells spilled the tea on the red carpet that he’d withdrawn from the Broadway production of Tammy Faye, scheduled to begin previews on October 19. Who will replace him on such short notice? Perhaps producers should call Andrew Garfield, who played Jim Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye and proved he could carry a tune in the film adaptation of tick…tick …Boom!

“Hey, L.A., I’m comin’ your way!”

The famous lyric from Gypsy will, once again, reverberate from the rafters when Audra McDonald steps into the iconic role of Mama Rose (possibly opposite KeKe Palmer, according to our favorite insider source, The Sweaty Oracle). In the meantime, the real L.A. delivers its share of queer theater this summer.

A Strange LoopThe Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop continues its Los Angeles run, including a reprise performance by Tony nominee John-Andrew Morrison. Queerty caught up with Morrison shortly before the show opened and recalled when the production won Best New Musical:

“Something that people don’t know is when Michael R. Jackson won his Tony Award [Best Book of a Musical], the entire cast was on stage behind him, behind the giant video wall. We were getting ready and being set up by the stage managers at Radio City to perform on the Tonys. We couldn’t hear his speech, but we heard when his name was called, and we heard the applause, and so we were literally on stage with him. I remember us loving on him behind this wall and crying and screaming and being so happy and pulling it together because we had a performance to give in about five minutes. The Radio City stage managers going, “You have to quiet down.” We were so excited for him. Later, Chita Rivera called our show for Best Musical. I remember thinking as we bum-rushed the stage: ‘Don’t crush Chita. She’s a national treasure.'”
Ahmanson Theatre, Center Theater Group, Los Angeles. Performances through June 30.

The cast of CTG's "A Strange Loop."
The cast of CTG’s “A Strange Loop.” Photo by Alessandra Mello.

Drew Droege in Psycho Beach Party — Queerty Pride 50 Catalyst Award honoree Charles Busch’s 1987 play (and subsequent film) gets new life in a new production at L.A.’s Matrix Theatre. A mash-up of psychodramas, beach movies, and slasher films, expect plenty of campy fun, including a star-turn by Drew Droege (Bright Colors and Bold Patterns). 
Matrix Theatre, Los Angeles. Performances through July 6.

Drew Droege, Thomas Hobson, and Michael P. McDonald in "Psycho Beach Party." Photo by Jeff Lorch.
Drew Droege, Thomas Hobson, and Michael P. McDonald in “Psycho Beach Party.” Photo by Jeff Lorch.

Reefer Madness Spencer Liff (who directed and choreographed Alaska’s Queerties-winning DRAG: The Musical) returns with another high-energy romp — this time, a revival of the musical Refer Madness, based on the 1936 propaganda film of the same name. With producers (and original stars of the TV adaptation) Kristen Bell and Alan Cumming behind it and an immersive setting at The Whitley, aka “the Reefer Den,” premium and VIP ticket holders can attend the post-show party for live musical performances by David Lamoureux & The Four Twenties with special guest performances.
The Whitley, Los Angeles. Performances through July 21.

Charles Busch brings down the house at Queerty Pride 50

Queerty’s annual Pride 50 event, held on June 17 at New York City’s legendary Edison Ballroom, celebrated the biggest LGBTQ+ change makers from the last year. Since the event was held in New York City, it brought out some of the theater community’s best, including Jes Tom, Daniel K. Isaac, Yani Marin, Kolton Krouse, Anthony Michael Lopez, Samantha Pauly, Noah J. Ricketts, Eddie Cooper, Ariella Serur and Sav Souza.

Actress, playwright, author, and filmmaker Charles Busch enchanted guests with his acceptance speech, recalling the early days of his career when he had to forge a new path to stay true to his authentic creative expression.

Ramin Karimloo stokes Titanic‘s fire

New York City’s Encores! series returns for its 30th season, presenting the best of American musical theater. An enormous cast of 34 tackles Maury Yeston’s melodic score, which won five Tony Awards in 1997, including Best Musical. True, the ending is no surprise, but how we get there is breathtaking, thanks to music director Rob Berman and a cast of Broadway veterans including Jose Llana, Brandon Uranowitz, Brandon Contreras, Eddie Cooper, and a muscly turn by Ramin Karimloo, who last appeared Off-Broadway opposite Beanie Feldstein, then Julie Benko, and finally Lea Michele in Funny Girl, in which he flashed his six-pack.

Karimloo has clearly continued to hit the gym to portray the bulked-up stoker Frederick Barrett, who gallantly goes down with the ship but not before singing the soaring “Barrett’s Song.”
New York City Center, New York City. Performances through June 23.

Leading ladies: may the odds be ever in your favor

Even though we’re still catching our breath from this year’s Tony Awards, next season is already shaping up to be a battle royale for Broadway’s leading ladies. Jaws dropped when it was announced that Audra McDonald would star in a revival of Gypsy directed by George C. Wolfe. And that was after we discovered that Nicole Scherzinger would be jumping the pond to reprise her role as Norma Desmond in the Jamie Lloyd-directed revival of Sunset Boulevard.

Sutton Foster returns in a revival of Once Upon a Mattress, co-starring Michael Urie, and even Patti LuPone is getting in on the action, although not in a musical. She’ll return to Broadway opposite Mia Farrow in a new play, The Roommate. Jennifer Simard and Megan Hilty play famous frenemies in the musical adaptation of Death Becomes Her. And then as if Peter Pan had plopped out of the sky, actors hit the Tony Awards stage to announce their arrivals, including Idina Menzel in Redwood and Adrienne Warren opposite Nick Jonas in The Last Five Years.

And if that isn’t enough, Bernadette Peters and Lea Salonga headline Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends, and the Jennifer Hudson-produced Smash will likely deliver big names to drive audiences to the TV-turned-musical adaptation.

Broadway, bring it on!

(clockwise from top right) Sutton Foster, Idina Menzel, Adrienne Warren, Nicole Scherzinger, Audra McDonald, Jennifer Simard, and Megan Hilty
(clockwise from top right) Sutton Foster, Idina Menzel, Adrienne Warren, Nicole Scherzinger, Audra McDonald, Jennifer Simard, and Megan Hilty. Photos: Shutterstock

Featured image: (from left) Drew Droege in Psycho Beach Party (photo: Jeff Lorch) Ramin Karimloo in Titanic (photo: Joan Marcus), Idina Menzel in Redwood (photo: Emma Anderson).

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