LGBTQ* Musicals You Should Pay Attention To:
As 2014 approaches, the continuing success of Fun Home: The Musical suggests that more and more consumers are interested in giving previously-marginalized queer narratives a chance. Assessments of the musical adaptation are not making much of an attempt at making its queer content more palatable for non-queer-identified consumers—and in an exciting turn of events, the audience doesn’t seem to mind. Instead, reviews of the musical express excitement about a cultural climate in which such an openly queer narrative is welcomed by a wider audience. For example, one reviewer admits:
As a straight person, I was drawn into Bechdel’s memoir in a large part because her sexuality—and her father’s—are a major part of the story from the get-go…I hope the people promoting Fun Home: The Musical see the value in telling a compelling personal story, rather weakening the plot by going out of their way to make sure straight people feel invited to listen. (from this review)
In a shift from the original approach taken by Bechdel in her graphic memoir, the musical adaptation of Fun Home leaves no gray-area in which nervous audience members can ease their way into the story’s ‘queerness.’ Right away, the character of adult-Alison lets audience-members know exactly what they are about to experience: “Caption: Dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town. And he was gay, and I was gay, and he killed himself, and I became a lesbian cartoonist.”
The fact that Fun Home: The Musical can reveal the queerest aspects of its story to the audience so quickly suggests an evolving cultural climate growing more accustomed to queer images in mainstream media. After all, the run of the show has been extended through the middle of January at the New York Public Theater because it keeps selling out. In a review of the show in October, Slate asked, “Is America Ready For A Musical About A Butch Lesbian?" I’m excited to report that it seems like the answer is a resounding YES.
As always, Keep On, Keeping On.