Happy Pride: LGBTQ characters in 8 current Broadway shows

Below is an alphabetical listing of the 8 Broadway plays or musicals currently running (two of them only until next week!) that feature LGBTQ+ characters — some centrally, some peripherally; two arguably — which, taken together, feels like a record.

Philippe Arroyo as Francois Justin David Sullivan as May in & Juliet

“& Juliet”

May (portrayed by Justin David Sullivan), who lives outside gender binary labels, launches into Britney Spears’  hit “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman,” which of course was about her age; May makes it about gender transition. May and Francois (Philippe Arroyo) kiss, realize their attraction, and sing the NSYNC hit “It’s Going to Be Me” (pronounced May — get it?)

The Book of Mormon

One could argue that the musical number “Turn It Off” is an allusion to being in the closet, especially since the chorus boys performing the number are wearing red-sequined satin vests.) 

Marcel Spears as Juicy and Calvin Leon Smith as Larry in Fat Ham

“Fat Ham”

 Three of the eight characters are LGBT in this 2022 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, including the central character, Juicy (Marcel Spears) and on the play’s main concerns is the struggle against hostile attitudes in the Black community towards same-sex love and identity.

Nina White, Michael Iskander, Fernell Hogan and Olivia Hardy, the love quadrangle in “Kimberly Akimbo”

“Kimberly Akimbo”

While the central relationship in the 2023 Tony winning musical is between Kimberly (Victoria Clark) and Seth (Justin Cooley), there is a subplot involving a quartet of teenagers, whom we first meet at the local skating rink, singing:

All the action’s at the mall, 
but we’d rather be here skating. 

And then individually, each sings

I’m with the one I love,
but my love goes unrequited. 

Which is our introduction to their love relay: Aaron (Michael Iskander) has a crush on Delia (Olivia Elease Hardy),who has a crush on Teresa (Nina White), who has a crush on Martin (Fernell Hogan), who has a crush on Aaron.

Nathan Levy (in green) as queer Clumsy in “Once Upon a One More Time”

“Once Upon a One More Time”

The new jukebox musical, which opened on Thursday, features a subplot involving Snow White’s eighth dwarf, Clumsy (Nathan Levy), who comes out as gay when he falls for Prince Erudite (Ryan Steele.) 


Alex Newell won a Tony this year for portraying Lulu in this corny musical; it’s not clear to me whether Lulu is supposed to be genderfluid and non-binary, but that’s Newell’s much-publicized identity

“The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window”

This revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s 1964 Broadway play features an out gay character — four years before “Boys in the Band” shocked people Off-Broadway. David Ragin (Glenn Fitzgerald) is not only gay; he’s a playwright writing a play about two men married to one another and living in a refrigerator.

“Some Like It Hot”

This new musical is an adaptation of the 1959 film comedy, which starred Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as Jerry and Joe, two musicians who pretend to be women, Daphne and Geraldine, to escape a mob boss. The stage show makes several changes, the most consequential of which is that Jerry likes Daphne so much that he decides to stay as she.

 “I feel finally seen,” Daphne says, and then “I don’t have the word for what I feel.” But she does have a whole song, “You coulda knocked me over with a feather”:

Well, I have tried to love many ladies
Back when I sang in a much lower key
Now you could knock me over with a feather cause Joe,
The lady that I’m lovin’ is me

The actor who portrays Daphne, J. Harrison Ghee, who previously portrayed the drag queen Lola in “Kinky Boots” on Broadway, and identifies as non-binary, won a Tony this year for their performance.

Honorary mention: New York, New York

One of the new New Yorkers featured in this new musical by Kander and Ebb and Lin-Manuel Miranda is a character named Mateo Diaz, a drummer who recently arrived from Cuba, and dreams of having enough money to buy a gold dress for his mother. Here is an exchange with the actor portraying Mateo, Angel Sigala, in an interview posted last month:

“The belt on your jumpsuit sometimes looked like a sash to me, and from how you danced with the fabric, embracing the feminine side of your being, I wondered if your character was non-binary. Or was that my own modern projecting?

SIGALA: Not having that vocabulary in 1946-47, I’m not sure he could’ve made those choices. Certainly, in 2023, Mateo could identify as non-binary or genderqueer. But back then, I think he would be able to identify within the queer community, truly living their own life, but I doubt he would be open and out about it.”

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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