In musicals, women are usually straight

Name a musical that features a gay character. According to British academic James Lovelock, founder of QueerMusicals.com and author of the book LGBTQ characters* and queer representation in musical theaterYou should be able to list five of them. That’s an optimistic estimate, because there aren’t a lot of musicals for (also) women who love women. We’ll be able to add another one from September 26th. Then the Dutch premiere of the movie prom, a musical about a high school girl who wants to go to prom with her friend. The school board does not agree to this and cancels the party, after which the girl suffers a lot from her classmates. The story is based on real controversy.

First Lesbian Bullet

At the moment, the most famous music personality in the Netherlands has not played the main character yet Fun house to be. This musical premiered in 2019 and received a lot of attention – although the playing period was short and the piece was only performed in Amsterdam. In the performance, lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdale delves into her family’s history and makes connections between her father’s homosexuality and her ex.

Fun house It was brought to the Netherlands by OpusOne, a producer who often puts gay characters on stage. These are usually men, for example in spider woman kiss (2015), Buyer and vault (2020) and spring awakening (2021), but sometimes women. Last summer, for example, Charlotte and Cordelia appeared in Falcetos, Lesbian protagonist neighbors. OpusOne was also produced in 2018 Violet, where the protagonist Seely co-stars with singer Shug Avery. This hardly appears in the movie adaptation of Steven Spielberg, but it can be read in the original book.

Another example is music Leasing, who last toured the Netherlands in 2016. In it, a lesbian lawyer and her bisexual friend were part of a group of friends in New York. Where Seely and Chug in Violet Singing a humble love duet, they have a sexy song about jealousy in their relationship.

Lesbians should be encouraged to write musicals

James Lovelock, Researcher

If you go back in time, you will come across Madam (1981). In it, writer Annie M.J. Schmidt presents a group of feminists as men-hating lesbians. Action Group Warm Lesbies Front protested at the time and described the characters as “naive, asexual, boisterous, quarrelsome women trying to glue other women into stroopwafels”. In short: an acting you don’t really expect as a lesbian.

Senator’s Mistress

Musical acts with lesbian characters can be counted on one hand, but why is the acting so bad? Because women haven’t had much of a chance to make musicals for so long, British theater scientist Lovelock says in a video call, there are few female voices — and thus also lesbian — in the field. Authors often write from their own experience and are less likely to think from other viewpoints. You can also see this in the above examples: Fun house Depends on CV graphic novel by Alison Bichdale; the novel Violet Written by androgynous Alice Walker.

The solution is simple, according to Lovelock: Lesbian and bisexual women should be encouraged to write musicals. Then their experiences will take place on the stage and the number of gay female characters will increase.

This is not the only solution to the absence of representation. Managers’ choices also play a role. They can choose to portray a hardly gay relationship, as Spielberg did Violetor increase diversity. The latter happened last summer inHello again From the core team.

not hidden

In this play based on the play CleaningThe audience sees a series of encounters between couples of different sexual orientations. Writer Michael John Lachiusa has already replaced some heterosexual characters for gay men in his musical composition, but a lesbian scene was only shown in the 2017 movie version. The song “Senator’s Mistress” is suddenly sung to a woman, while the senator was once a man. In De Kernploeg, director Benno Hoogveld also decided to opt for it, adding lesbian/bisexual characters to the Dutch music scene.

Compared to America or the UK, the Netherlands is far behind. The list of products with gay characters on QueerMusicals.com so far includes about thirty titles, but the vast majority of them have not (yet) made it to the Dutch stages.

Which may have helped producer De Graaf & Cornelissen make the decision to make a Dutch version of prom is that the musical recently hit a huge audience as a Netflix movie with stars like Meryl Streep, James Corden, and Nicole Kidman. They play a celebrity outcast who wants to improve their image by helping a disadvantaged high school girl. In the end, they are the heroines and the relationship between the girls, which started it all, is a secondary one.

Until now prom great at acting. With a song like Unruly Heart, for example, high school student Emma describes how she tried to suppress her homosexual feelings for so long. The song begins closely with only Emma’s vocals and soothing guitar sounds, but eventually reaches a splashy climax, when a chorus of LGBTQI students joins in:I won’t be hiding anymoreLet’s hope that this dogma applies to more lesbian characters, and that a musical audience can effortlessly recount ten characters within a few years.

The concert will premiere on September 26th. More information: degraafencornelissen.nl book LGBTQ characters* and queer representation in musical theater By James Lovelock To be published at the end of 2023 by Methuen Drama

Read also: “It’s about not expressing feelings and getting entrapped as a result.”

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