Hamilton may be making history and headlines, but you won't find it on this list. Advocate contributing editor Brandon Voss counts down the past year's best LGBT-inclusive productions on and off-Broadway.
10. The Human Symphony
Created and directed by Dylan Marron, a gay member of the New York Neo-Futurists troupe, one of the year’s most inventive and ambitious theatrical experiences starred… you? Culled from Marron’s interviews, the piece required six audience members, instructed by MP3 players, to silently reenact real-life narratives about online dating, including a spot-on cautionary tale about a Grindr gang bang.
New Ohio Theatre, closed.
9. Dada Woof Papa Hot
Like this year’s Steve, out playwright Peter Parnell’s astute, very timely play gives witty voice to gay men in the throes of midlife crisis. Guided by out director Scott Ellis, John Benjamin Hickey and Patrick Breen star as a mainstreamed married couple with a 3-year-old daughter and a domestic existence they never imagined possible. Enter two young fathers in an open relationship. What’s a hot older daddy to do?
Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, through January 3.
8. Bright Half Life
Women’s Project presented out playwright Tanya Barfield and out director Leigh Silverman’s effectively non-linear look at precious moments in a lesbian partnership. Played by Rachael Holmes and Rebecca Henderson, who had palpable chemistry, Vicki and Erica argue, skydive, shop for a bed, etc. Once it’s clear that the love doesn’t last, it’s up to the audience to pick up the pieces and put them back together.
New York City Center Stage II, closed.
7. Significant Other
Finding a boyfriend ain’t easy. Take it from Joshua Harmon’s smart, snappy, and painfully relatable tragicomedy, knowingly directed by Trip Cullman. Out actor Gideon Glick was heartbreaking as Jordan, an unhappily single New Yorker imploding with loneliness as his gal pals get married. Dreaming about domestic gay bliss, Jordan remains endearing even while desperately Facebook-stalking a hot coworker.
Roundabout Theatre Company’s Laura Pels Theatre, closed.
6. The Mystery of Love & Sex
Bathsheba Doran’s resonant relationship drama filled the generation gap between parent and child with remarkable insights about finding oneself while in the company of others. Mamoudou Athie and Gayle Rankin played college soulmates and friends since childhood; he’s black and Baptist, she’s white and Jewish. The real mystery of their romantic incompatibility? They’re both struggling with their sexuality.
Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, closed.
5. The Color Purple
Unlike this year’s Spring Awakening, John Doyle’s soaring, streamlined revival is even more satisfying than the original. Breathing pure new life into the roof-raising 2005 musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel about southern black women, it also sexually recharges the love affair between dynamo Cynthia Erivo’s downtrodden Celie and the radiant Jennifer Hudson’s sassy singer Shug. Color me impressed.
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, open-ended.
Say what? The publishing world isn’t glamorous? Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s dark, dread-inducing workplace comedy starred out actor Ryan Spahn, who gave an indelible performance as a harried and hungover gay editorial assistant at a Manhattan-based magazine. Something unspeakable happens while the embittered staffers bicker between Starbucks runs, but which vulture gets to write about it?
Vineyard Theatre, closed.
3. The Humans
Thanksgiving has never been more inexplicably terrifying. In gay playwright Stephen Karam’s naturalistic, exquisitely rendered family drama, helmed by gay director Joe Mantello, the Blakes congregate at the youngest child’s Chinatown apartment, where strange noises complement secrets hanging in the air. Cassie Beck suffers loudest as sister Aimee, a lawyer with colitis who was recently dumped by her girlfriend.
Roundabout Theatre Company’s Laura Pels Theatre, through January 3.
2. Fun Home
“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.” And so begins Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron’s fresh, uncommonly moving musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s acclaimed graphic memoir. Drawing us in closer, this Broadway transfer was deeply enriched by Sam Gold’s intimate new in-the-round staging.
Circle in the Square Theatre, open-ended.
1. Small Mouth Sounds
Silence spoke volumes in Bess Wohl’s awe-inspiring comic drama about six emotional wrecks seeking change or solace at a woodsy spiritual retreat where speaking is verboten. Meticulously directed by Rachel Chavkin on a slim strip of stage, the skillful, subtle ensemble included Sakina Jaffrey and Marcia Debonis as a sweet but fractious lesbian couple beset by cancer. Disasters this beautiful don’t need much dialogue.