I recently read the below article in Diva magazine and was quite surprised by the tone of the piece. I have copied it below for the convenience of non Diva reading readers!
The below is not written by me and is copyright Diva Magazine. Unfortunately I am only allowed to reproduce 1/3 of the article for now so here’s the first part. Sadly the first part of the article is not what I was wishing to discuss, but hey!
Jazz hands! Too camp for a dyke, you say? Surely not! Why, even Glee’s got its very own pom-pom wielding fairy-footed lesbian now! And what’s more, we needn’t have waited for Glee to throw the dykes a bone – lesbians have been loving musicals ever since the 1893 West End hit, A Gaiety Girl. Huzzah!You would, however, be forgiven for being sceptical. As it stands, lesbians aren’t really seen all that favourably in musicals – that is, when they’re seen at all. Indeed, the best we ever get are stereotypes like the gym teacher in Hairspray, or Mama Morton in Chicago. (Although, a badass woman in Uniform? With a truncheon? I’m not complaining…)But Stacy Wolf, professor of theatre at American university Princeton, explains why this doesn’t really matter. “In a musical everything is heightened and intensified – we don’t need to see literal lesbians on stage to feel a deep, emotional connection between women. The story can actually run counter to musical numbers and two women can still register emotionally as a couple.”And this certainly seems to be true of the musical Wicked. For those that don’t know the show, Wicked is the back story of the Wicked Witch of The West, Elphaba, her friendship with the Good Witch, Glinda, and her love for Fiyero… a guy. That’s right kids, it’s a heterosexual plot.Nonetheless, it turns out there are no limits to crazy when it comes to Wicked’s lesbian fans. After a little digging, I find that long queues form outside the theatre in the wee hours. Some people bring sleeping bags and snacks. Many are wearing memorabilia. someone is playing the Wicked soundtrack on their phone. And the sun is only just coming up over the Victoria Apollo.
– Written by Iman Qureshi. Copyright Diva Magazine
Now, I’m not sure what you guys think of the above but I don’t think it’s a full picture of musical fandom, whether that fandom is gay, straight, bisexual or anything else for that matter.
The article describes stage-dooring as some kind of animal hunt, in which fans hang around alleys waiting to pounce on unsuspecting cast members. First and foremost, I always think there are several types of fans. From the quiet fans who won’t go near the stage door, right through to the microwave buying, baked goods handing out fans discussed in the article. They come in all sexualities, shapes and sizes. All types of fans are what essentially helps keep theatre alive and I think the above article was quite negative towards the more involved types of fans. There’s nothing wrong with being involved – as long as you are respectful and know where the line is.
Also, I think that when writing an article, one must thoroughly research one’s subject. Part of the article informs readers that Kerry Ellis was on Broadway for two weeks – news to me, as she was there for over five months. Also, Apollo Victoria, not Victoria Apollo. Small things can let down an article.
The article discussed mainly Legally Blonde and Wicked. I felt that discussing only two shows in detail let the side down. Lesbian characters aren’t too difficult to find in musical theatre. Bad Girls the Musical features a lesbian storyline, as does Andrew Lippa’s the Wild Party. Another easy one to distinguish is Rent, which features both gay, lesbian and bisexual characters and the Colour Purple also has a lesbian storyline. Many of those characters are not the stereotypes that Diva say are all too common in musical theatre.
Aside from the very positive interview with Ruthie Stephenson regarding being gay within theatre, I just didn’t think this article was a great representation of theatre fans, whether straight or gay. It’s great that any magazine would feature an article about musical theatre and the fandom to which we are all accustomed, but it would have been nice to see a bigger picture from the fan point of view rather than just discussing so called ‘super’ fans.
I would be interested to hear your views folks!