Artwork (c) Adam Villers 2020
Lesbian characters in musical theatre
There have been relatively few explicit same-sex female relationships in musical theatre, but several recent musicals have started to explore lesbian, bisexual and pansexual female characters as protagonists. Alice Walker's beautiful novel The Color Purple was turned into a Broadway musical by a writing team that included bisexual singer-songwriter Allee Willis alongside Brenda Russell and Stephen Bray, and Alison Bechdel's graphic novel memoir Fun Home was adapted by Lisa Kron of the Five Lesbian Brothers with Jeanine Tesori. In the UK, the hit TV series Bad Girls was musicalised by its writers Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus and the composer/lyricist Kath Gotts.
Even more recently, musicals have started to explore different aspects of female same-sex relationships. Finn Anderson and Tania Azevedo's A Mother's Song and Janet Hood and Bill Russell's Unexpected Joy both consider the themes of motherhood, while Kath Gotts and Maureen Chadwick's Crush The Musical, Preston Max Allen's We Are The Tigers and Meg McGrady and Zoe Morris's The Phase provide alternative queer narratives in musicals set in high schools. Laura Schein and Keith Harrison's Emojiland includes a relationship between Construction Worker and Police Officer that is tested by the outrageous demands of Princess, and Shiloh Coke's modern musical adaptation of Jackie Kay's Chiaroscuro centres a group of women from different cultural backgrounds responding to a same-sex relationship between two of the group.
Bad Girls - The Musical, The Color Purple and Fun Home remain the only three West End and Broadway musicals to have queer female characters written by at least one openly queer female writer, but several other musicals have incorporated lesbian and female bisexual characters into their narratives including Falsettos, Head Over Heels, If/Then, Jagged Little Pill, Mean Girls, The Prom, Rent and The Wild Party. Head Over Heels and The Prom are notable in that they both end with their lesbian protagonists in happy same-sex relationships.