With gay marriage ebbing and flowing across many countries and states, it could only have been a matter of time before a Broadway musical of biblical proportions be swished together for the big screen. Happily, writer/lyricist Fred M. Caruso’s “divine inspiration” found a largely talented cast, crew and composer, crafting a show-within-a-show songfest that tackles nearly every pink-triangle issue known to queerdom.
It’s chock-a-block bursting at the seams with visual clichés (devouring a cocktail cherry, Liza Minnelli look-a-like as so-you-think-you-can-sing devotee, all manner of gaily bouncing appendages cutting enticing outlines in the enthusiastic chorus members’ angelic briefs), situations (imagine having your parents unexpectedly decide to attend your off-Broadway début only to discover that their virginal offspring is a Friend of Dorothy) and lines (“you’ll never be alone again”) that, without the song-and-dance numbers (courtesy of Shea Sullivan’s sturdy choreography—only a winged tap escapade caused any concern) would have sent the audience to the exits as sure as the opening shtick of an off-off-Broadway “breeder” play from Hell.
Playing a marvellously irreverent God-as-poofter, Steve Hayes lights up the opening “preview” of Adam and Steve - Just the way God made ’em as he expels the fabled first inhabitants of the Garden of Eden (no asp is shown or harmed in this production) and replaces them with a pair of buff boys “in his own image” (the mirror image, as it were, to the initial encounter of an on-line date whose Internet picture was taken 20 years ago: that’s just another example of the gay man’s stereotypical laundry list of overdone situations alluded to above).
The two principals have much to offer. Daniel Robinson (Adam and “real life” Paul) wears his fig-leaf jock beautifully, dances convincingly but needs a few more trips to the vocal woodshed to lift his songs on high with perfect pitch and support. As Steve/Eddie, Joey Dudding has the edge in the voice department, moves easily and works through his booze-fuelled initiation by the one-night “limbs” of Mr. Right Now (and subsequent AIDS test) with a wonderful sense of inevitability.
The husband and wife Fundamentalist-‘R’-Us team of Liz McCartney and John Hillner are devilishly redneck. The former has the song-du-film, “As I Am,” delivering the showstopper with style, panache and power that would have been equally welcome from her energetic colleagues (composer Rick Crom’s modulations were also skilfully constructed and most welcome, giving the somewhat unmemorable melodies somewhere to go). Also worth a listen is Marty Thomas’ full-blooded rendition of “God Loves Gays”—this Dorothy incarnate has both physical presence and considerable talent that demands an encore.
Directors Casper Andreas and Caruso have achieved a commendable balance between the stage production as it evolves and the personal dilemmas of the cast as they drink, trick and belt their way along the gaily infused path towards opening night.
All queer men (and their admirers whether closeted bible thumpers or rejected showgirls wanting to take a bow vicariously) who’ve ever dabbed on a bit of mascara or craved real applause from an audience rather than move-along claps from the Karaoke crowd will want to take “places” in The Big Gay Musical. And those who’ve always wondered what the fuss was all about might also take a peek, surreptiously humming and dancing along with the chorus. JWR