We’re Queering the F*ck Out of Musical Theater, Wanna Help?

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Dreaming of a place filled with singing lesbians.

While the other lesbians in my high school were playing softball, I was the girl who did every show, headed the drama club, and sang in the halls. Essentially, I was Rachel Berry, but less abrasive and with a lot more black in my wardrobe. I rented documentaries on Broadway from the library and dreamed of the day I would get to be up on that stage. I was excited to go off to college with my tap shoes in tow, where I was assured I would meet girls like me: girls who lived for musical theatre and wanted to make out with other girls.

Upon arriving at conservatory, I was excited to be around so many out queer people. I felt happy hearing all the boys talk about the other boys they wanted to date. “You guys are just like me!!!!” I would have said, if anyone had stopped competing for the spotlight long enough to talk to me. After several weeks, I figured out that I was pretty much the only self-identified lesbian in the whole school. I had entered a field that was seemingly devoid of lesbians.

This lack of lesbians has led to some interesting experiences over the years. I have repeatedly stayed in the closet because of assumptions that I don’t correct. I’m never sure how to respond in these situations because my personal orientation has nothing to do with the work I am doing. But at the same time, all of my work is based around sexuality. Most of the work I am doing is pretending to fall in love with men. There is an assumption that women in musical theatre are straight. Sometimes I correct it, but sometimes I’m standing in front of Sutton Foster and 50 other workshop students and it just doesn’t seem like a great time to come out of the closet.

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Not a good time to come out.

When Rachel Kunstadt, along with co-creator/producers Thirza Defoe and Teresa Lotz, came to me and asked if I would be interested in performing in Lezcab, I jumped around in excitement for a bit before wondering why nobody had ever done this before. I am so excited to be part of something that recognizes, showcases, and celebrates queer women in musical theatre. It’s nice to actually do a song without having to flip the pronouns in my head — I get to do what I love without having to face assumptions about my sexuality. I wish that I had this as my confused and lonely adolescent-self, which is why we’re bringing a little piece of queer lady musical theatre to those of you not able to visit it in person.

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Here is a clip of the amazing talented Marie Eife singing “Never Neverland” by Scott Alan from the first LezCab. Maggie Keenan-Bolger will also tell you a little bit about her younger days.

Rachel on starting Lezcab:

“I started LezCab because I’ve been involved in musical theatre my entire life, and I’ve witnessed a huge community of gay men in musical theatre, yet there’s very little representation of queer women in musical theatre.  People always talk about how open and accepting (and queer) musical theatre is, but I’ve found that it’s geared towards men.  I thought that there has to be a group of us out there, and seeing as the community structure didn’t exist, I decided to create it.  I approached Teresa and Thirza, who are classmates of mine at the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU/Tisch, and they were on board.

Being a queer writer in musical theatre, I definitely see a lack of material out there.  There aren’t many female musical theatre writers to begin with, and so just seeing women writing is amazing.  While the industry has many queer male musical theatre writers, which has been the case for a long time, there is not much as to queer content in musical theatre, male or female.”

I was super excited walking into rehearsal. These girls were so talented and cute and queer! If we’d all been in an audition room with 500 other girls up for the same role, we would’ve blended in with the masses, so it was nice to realize that I wasn’t alone. I don’t yet know if my experiences mirror any of the other performers’, but I do know this is fairly new territory and we finally have a venue where we can explore questions.

One of the performers I’ve been singing alongside is Holly Marie Dunn, who’s so talented and has an amazing fiancée who records all of her performances, which mean you guys get to see them. Isn’t that cute? Here’s a recording of Holly singing “Expectations of a Man.”

Because we don’t all have amazing fiancées who record our singing, Lezcab is looking for someone with an awesome camera and some skills to record future performances. If you’re in the New York area and think this might be you, please contact lezcab1 [at] gmail [dot] com. Otherwise, we hope to see you at the next “Lezcab” on Dec. 16th. RSVP here! There’s an after party, so if you want to get your drink on with some cute girls, you can RSVP for the party here. If you’re far away, don’t worry! You can send us good vibes and wait for some more stories and cute singing girls in video form.

I am an actor living in NYC. I spend a lot of time on the subway reading books about the city I am under. I love buildings and bridges and the parks that hold NY together. Before I moved here I lived in Oregon. There I learned to recycle and always carry an umbrella. I hop around the country and try to find satisfaction in life.

Julia has written 7 articles for us.

24 Comments

  1. This post is wonderful. I ended up not pursuing theatre as a career, but I think I was the only person who ever got to watch any of the Broadway documentaries from my library because I just kept renewing them.

    It’s true that there is such a double standard in musical theatre, that all the men are gay and all of the women are straight. I was so excited to her about LezCab as well, but haven’t been back in the city for any of the shows. I’m going to try to come to the show on the 16th!

    Also, Never Neverland is one of my my favourite songs ever.

  2. Cool! I always felt this way as a theatre kid…

    But don’t forget “old fashioned love story” (I think that’s the name) from Wild Party. My first theatre girlfriend exposed me to it. It’s all about being a lady lover. Look it up!!

  3. I work in musical theatre (granted, in music direction not acting) and I always feel this way! It’s not fair.

    I play at auditions a lot and recently someone brought in “Old Fashioned Love Story” and did an AMAZING job with it. It’s a killer song.

  4. This is awesome. I’m currently up in the booth calling a show (very few light & sound cues)
    But I do backstage & act (plays & musical theater) it’s such a big theater community upstate in Albany but lesbians into theater is seemingly impossible.

    It’s nice to see yourself reflected and nice to have something to keep an eye out for future dates so I can come down to see it!

  5. I think a lot of the queer girls in theatre are backstage! Don’t forget your lovely designers, carpenters, stage hands, sound engineers etc. In fact, I’ve met almost exclusively queer women in sound and lights!

    We’re here! Just not necessarily in the spotlight.

    • Thank you for mentioning this. I’m sorry that I left you guys out of the post, it has been forever since I worked with a full stage crew. Maybe I will do one of the future articles about the ladies behind the scenes.

  6. You have no idea how much this makes me happy. I honestly am crying. I fairly recently returned to the theater as an out lesbian, and I was the only one in the cast. It kinda hurt.
    Seeing this makes me happy that I’m going back into theater (though mostly through backstage stuff).
    And I have a special fondness for Peter Pan too. :)

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