Artwork (c) Adam Villers 2020
Bisexual, pansexual and polysexual characters in musical theatre
Surprisingly enough, many of the earliest explicitly queer characters in musical theatre were bisexual. Woof in Hair, Frank 'n' Furter in The Rocky Horror Show and Clifford in Cabaret all exemplify the more fluid sexuality of the late 1960s and early 1970s. However, there have only been a few examples where writers have developed their characters beyond the stereotype of promiscuity. The Boy From Oz was one of the first musicals to provide a more nuanced portrait of bisexuality, based on the life and songs of Peter Allen. This was later followed by the character of Lucas in If/Then, which utilises a 'Sliding Doors'-style dual narrative in which Lucas has a relationship with a man in one timeline while pursuing Beth in the other.
In most musicals, bisexuality becomes a point of conflict where the bisexual character has to choose between a male and female lover. Nevertheless, there are some productions that have approached bisexuality in a more imagintative way. Tania Azevedo's 2018 production of John Bucchino's song cycle It's Only Life used different cast pairings for each song, which enabled a powerful reading of sexual fluidity between the characters. Arun Blair-Mangat's Qu4rter, Meg McGrady and Zoe Morris' The Phase and Ariel Hope Stump's Bad Queers all have bisexual or pansexual protagonists that are operating within queer micro-communities - these three works are all in development.
Nearly any character in musical theatre can be read as bisexual or pansexual, and some actors have approached their characters with this in mind. In particular, characters in Dear Evan Hansen, Be More Chill and Spring Awakening are often read as bisexual by audience members.