One reason I started this blog was to highlight diversity in musical theatre. Recently, I’ve fallen off that bandwagon somewhat. To partially remedy this situation, today I would like to shine a spotlight on a handful of musical theatre songs written for gay male characters. While this probably goes without saying, I’ll say it anyway: gay men have played a massive role in the development of musical theatre over the years. To name several gay and bisexual male theatre writers: Cole Porter, Noël Coward, Arthur Laurents, Larry Hart, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Kander and Ebb, Leonard Bernstein, Harvey Fierstein, William Finn, Henry Krieger, Elton John, Howard Ashman, Stephen Flaherty, Andrew Lippa, Michael John LaChiusa, Marc Shaiman, Scott Whittman, Jake Heggie… the list goes on and on, really. Notably, many were/are Jewish as well.
I think it’s fair to say that musical theatre is, and has always been, very very gay (which is, of course, perfectly A-Okay). In fact, musicals have always been a safe haven of sorts for many individuals within the LGBT community. However, there is still more work to do in terms of increasing diversity within musical theatre productions and beyond. A full list of LGBT-themed musicals can be found here. Below are several of my personal favorite musical theatre songs written for gay male characters (in chronological order). Some of these selections are serious and heart-wrenching while others are a bit more light-hearted and fun. Enjoy!
P.S. If you need assistance choosing appropriate repertoire for yourself or for your students, please check out my new repertoire consulting business, The Repertoire Guru.
1. “I Am What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles (1983)
Music & Lyrics by Jerry Herman
2. “What More Can I Say?” from Falsettoland (1990)
Music & Lyrics by William Finn
3. “Dressing Them Up” from Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993)
Music by John Kander; Lyrics by Fred Ebb
4. “I Could Write Books” from Zanna, Don’t! (2003)
Music & Lyrics by Tim Acito
5. “Role of a Lifetime” from Bare (2004)
Music by Damon Intrabartolo; Lyrics by Jon Hartmere, Jr.
6. “Hold Me in Your Heart” from Kinky Boots (2013)
Music & Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper
7. “Edges of the World” from Fun Home (2015)
Music by Jeanine Tesori; Lyrics by Lisa Kron