"My dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town. And he was gay. And I was gay. And he killed himself. And I became a lesbian cartoonist." So begins composer Jeanine Tesori and playwright Lisa Kron's fresh and uncommonly moving Off-Broadway musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel's acclaimed 2006 graphic memoir. Portrayed by three fine actors at three ages, Alison draws us in as she considers the enigma that was her father, played by Michael Cerveris at his best.
Standout track: "Ring of Keys"
Young dynamo Sydney Lucas wows as 8-year-old Alison, who's overwhelmed by unfamiliar feelings when she lays eyes on an "old-school butch" delivery woman.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
I Am My Own Wife chameleon Jefferson Mays plays a total of eight ill-fated English aristocrats, all quirky members of the D'Ysquith family, in Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak's scandalously clever Tony-winning farce. It makes sense that at least one of them would be a little light in the Edwardian loafers.
Standout track: "Better With a Man"
Effeminate cousin Henry D'Ysquith duets with Bryce Pinkham's Monty Navarro, a dangerously ambitious heir to the D'Ysquith fortune, in this delightful celebration of male companionship and double entendre.
Heathers: The Musical
Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy's uplifting Off-Broadway musical adaptation of the 1988 cult comedy, a dark satire of high school cliques brightened for the "It Gets Better" generation, does right by the film's quotable mean girls and bullied misfits. Lick it up, baby.
Standout track: "My Dead Gay Son"
The killer score includes this unlikely showstopper about tolerance, passionately sung by Anthony Crivello and Daniel Cooney as the grieving fathers of two murdered straight jocks staged in a compromising position.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Tony winner Neil Patrick Harris headlines the Tony-winning Broadway debut of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's cult rock musical as Hedwig, a glittery East German singer and self-described "slip of a girly boy” living as a female after botched gender-reassignment surgery. Tony winner Lena Hall butches it up as Yitzhak, Hedwig's hubby and backup singer, who's desperate to unleash his inner drag diva.
Standout track: "The Long Grift"
You already heard NPH go wild on "Sugar Daddy" for the Tonys telecast. Now hear him take a backseat to Hall on this bitter but vulnerable kiss-off to a deceitful ex.
The "wickedly talented" Idina Menzel belts her face off as Elizabeth, a spirited divorcée starting over in Manhattan, in Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's ambitious concept musical, an earnest exploration of chance and choice with a Sliding Doors split narrative. LaChanze and out actor Anthony Rapp are charming in both realities as her fiery lesbian friend and droll bisexual buddy.
Standout track: "Love While You Can"
Playing Kate and Anne, girlfriends going through a rough patch, LaChanze and out actress Jenn Colella join Menzel on this power ballad about the power of love.