The Great Work truly began in 2018.
Theatergoers were #blessed by high-profile Broadway revivals of iconic gay masterworks, controversial lesbian lip-locks, and herstoric trans representation headed in heels by Drag Race darling Peppermint, not to mention innumerable queer scene-stealers sharing New York City’s smaller stages.
No shade, Cher, but here are the 10 best LGBTQ-inclusive plays and musicals that premiered both on and off-Broadway this year.
America Is Hard to See
Based on real interviews with sex offenders, this audacious musical about redemption featured Ken Barnett as a choir director who “flunked out of gay rehab” after his inappropriate behavior with a student. Life Jacket Theatre Company at Here Arts Center, closed.
Straight White Men
Young Jean Lee’s privilege-checking, identity-confronting satire about a suburban father and his three adult sons (how you doin’, Armie Hammer?) was elevated by non-binary docents Kate Bornstein and Ty Defoe. Second Stage at Hayes Theater, closed.
Is God Is
Twin sisters from the Dirty South go west in Aleshea Harris’ Tarantino-esque tragedy. Seeking revenge on the dad who left them fire-scarred, they encounter a nerdy gay half-brother played by Anthony Cason. Soho Rep, closed.
The Boys in the Band
Mart Crowley’s seminal 1968 drama about gay men gathered for a birthday soirée in pre-Stonewall Manhattan, revived by Joe Mantello with a starry all-gay cast, turned into a swell 50th anniversary celebration. Booth Theatre, closed.
Sugar in Our Wounds
In Donja R. Love’s heartbreaking yet hopeful drama, part of a trilogy exploring the queer black experience, Sheldon Best and Chinaza Uche dazzled as Southern plantation slaves liberated by love during the Civil War. MTC’s Studio at Stage II, closed.
Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties
Five disparate women named Betty seized their “pussy” power in Jen Silverman’s uproarious satire. Dana Delany led the fearless queer expedition with lesbian comics Chaunté Wayans and Lea DeLaria. MCC’s Lucille Lortel Theatre, closed.
At Home at the Zoo
In Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story, paired with prequel Homelife, Paul Sparks was electric as an unhinged “h-o-m-o-s-e-x-u-a-l” outcast who provokes an affluent square (Robert Sean Leonard) in Central Park. Pershing Square Signature Center, closed.
Casey Nicholaw, a musical Midas, directs and choreographs this ripped-from-the-headlines crowd-pleaser about an Indiana girl (Caitlin Kinnunen) whose high school dance is canceled when she tries to bring her girlfriend. Longacre Theatre, open-ended.
Angels in America
Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane were transcendent in Marianne Elliott’s heavenly revival of Tony Kushner’s gay fantasia, a still-relevant response to Reagan’s willful ignorance of deaths at the dawn of the AIDS crisis. Neil Simon Theatre, closed.
What the Constitution Means to Me
The radiant Heidi Schreck, who gave speeches on the U.S. Constitution as a teen, intimately explores the debatable document’s impact on women in her timely triumph. Providing “positive male energy,” likable gay actor Mike Iveson breaks character as an American legionnaire to further unpack toxic masculinity. The show is essentially 2018 in 90 life-affirming minutes, both seditious and a salve, and We the People must demand its swift return. New York Theater Workshop at Greenwich House Theater through December 30.
217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous at BAC.
Agnes at 59E59 Theatres.
The Amateurs at Vineyard Theatre.
Eve’s Song at Public Theater.
Fairview at Soho Rep.
Head Over Heels at Hudson Theatre.
I Was Most Alive With You at Playwrights Horizons.
Let’s Get Ready Together at the Tank.
Lewiston/Clarkston at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.
Mean Girls at August Wilson Theatre.
Midnight at the Never Get at York Theatre Company.
The Pattern at Pendarvis at Here Arts Center.
queens at LCT3.
Secret Life of Humans at 59E59 Theaters.
Slave Play at New York Theatre Workshop.
Soundstage at Here Arts Center.
This American Wife at Next Door at NYTW.
Three Tall Women at Golden Theatre.
Transfers at MCC’s Lucille Lortel Theatre.