Hedwig, The Book of Mormon and More: Gay on the Great White Way

By Brandon Voss
03 Jun 2014

Lena Hall and Neil Patrick Harris
Lena Hall and Neil Patrick Harris
Photo by Joan Marcus

As part of Playbill.com's 30 Days of Pride, we look at Broadway plays and musicals that feature gay characters. From A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder to Kinky Boots, gay characters appear in many theatres on the Great White Way.


As 2011 Tony Awards host Neil Patrick Harris famously explained during his big opening number, "Broadway is not just for gays anymore!" That being sung, audience members of many sexual orientations and gender identities can currently see themselves represented on the Main Stem. And what better time than LGBT Pride Month to celebrate Broadway's rainbow of queer characters?

Harris himself headlines the Broadway premiere of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's cult rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch as Hedwig, a glittery East German singer and self-described "slip of a girly boy" living as a female after a botched gender-reassignment operation. Meanwhile, Lena Hall butches it up as Yitzhak, Hedwig's husband and backup singer, who's itching to unleash his inner drag diva.

Alan Cumming also embraces androgyny to reprise his Tony-winning performance as a seedy pre-war Berlin nightclub's outrageously omnisexual Emcee in Roundabout's revisited revival of Cabaret, which also stars Michelle Williams as boozy chanteuse Sally Bowles. Cliff Bradshaw (Bill Heck), a bisexual American writer and Sally's newly liberated lover, is based on Christopher Isherwood, gay author of the Kander and Ebb musical's source material.

For more bisexuality with a historical bent, join the circus at Diane Paulus's Pippin revival and witness King Charlemagne's conflicted son (Kyle Dean Massey) come of age, so to speak, in a cage orgy with both guys and gals. Simple joys indeed. Whether or not late greats Moss Hart and Billie Holiday were bisexual, it isn't addressed in the bioplays Act One and Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill. 'Tain't nobody's bizness, anyway.

When ringing The Book of Mormon's bell, say "Hello!" to Elder McKinley (Matt Loehr), the closeted Mormon leader of a Ugandan mission. Convinced his pesky gay thoughts are a "curable curse," McKinley leads a pink-sequined chorus in "Turn It Off," a showstopper about suppressing indecent impulses.


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