Artwork (c) Adam Villers 2020
Queer Black characters in musical theatre
It is important to remember that any of the queer characters in the musicals on these pages can be played by Black actors. Most recently, Layton Williams and Noah Thomas have taken the role of Jamie New in Everybody's Talking About Jamie, recognising the universality of the character of Jamie, who was originally based on a white gay man. There are a smaller number of musicals that specifically draw on Black queer experiences in the writing - Michael R. Jackson's A Strange Loop was recently awarded the Pullitzer Prize, and the musical adaptation of The Color Purple has seen several revivials across the world.
A Strange Loop
The Color Purple
Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Head Over Heels
Leave To Remain
The View Upstairs
Other musicals that explore the intersectionality between Black and queer characters include Kele Okereke's Leave To Remain, in which the inter-racial relationship between Obi and Alex is viewed through their Nigerian and White American heritage respectively, and Witness Uganda, which narrates the story of Griffin Matthews' work to establish a charity to support a group of Ugandan teenagers through their educational journey. Arun Blair-Mangat is currently developing Qu4rter, which follows a group of young adults from Black, mixed-race and Latinx backgrounds, and Shiloh Coke recently composed the score for a new musical adaptation of Jackie Kay's Chiaroscuro. Musicals such as Rent, Head Over Heels and Unexpected Joy all represent inter-racial relationships, and it is particularly significant that both & Juliet and The View Upstairs specify that casting must include a range of ethnicities, which ensures that Black actors are represented on stage.