ONCE UPON A TIME GAY MOVIE MUSICALS WERE JUST MUSICALS
Aren’t all movie musicals gay movie musicals? Does the very fact that it’s a musical make it gay? Depends who you ask but in our books there’s definitely a distinction. There are fans of musicals and fans of gay movies and when a film successfully collides these two worlds, you get super niche and super kitsch Gay Movie Musicals!
The movie musical genre has been a part of America at the very beginning with the “talking pictures.” Since The Jazz Singer, (An American musical that was the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized sound), musicals have graced the big screen from the classics like Oklahoma and West Side Story.
Musicals eventually faded away, but are now coming back strong ever since the huge success of the movie, Chicago. Not only are movie musicals back on the big screen, television is jumping on board too with made-for-television live events like The Sound Of Music Live and Hairspray Live.
What about the independent film world? Why haven’t we seen a huge number of independent gay movie musicals? It seems the perfect market for a gay independent film. My guess is most independent films are made on a shoestring budget with minimal rehearsal. Not exactly the best ingredients for a musical.
When we watch a movie musical, we want great musical numbers with costumes, dancers, and orchestrations. In fact, we don’t just want it, we expect it! How can you sell us a musical without those elements?
I’ve watched some independent musicals that make me cringe as out-of-tune actors try lip-syncing to the worst karaoke tracks you’ve ever heard. It definitely makes me want to avoid independent movie musicals, but here are 5 reasons why we should give them another chance.
Without further ado, here’s our 5 BEST INDEPENDENT GAY MOVIE MUSICALS worthy of a watch. An interesting note, our favorite 2 independent gay movie musicals, CAMP and Waiting In The Wings: The Musical both have sequels in the works. Perhaps I’ll have to update this list to the Top 7 Independent Gay Movie Musicals soon!
#1 WAITING IN THE WINGS: THE MUSICAL (2014)
Plotline: A mix-up occurs between a hot stripper and a musical theatre geek from two very different online contests. Hilarity ensues as they realize that “to make it” they’re gonna have to learn some new tricks.
Thoughts: Was nervous heading into this film after reading the storyline, but ironically it works really well with the witty staging, musical numbers, and choreography. This film has a lot of heart and could easily be adapted to the stage. Just like one of our other favorite independent gay movie musicals, CAMP, this isn’t a movie with some gay characters but hits an audience outside just the gay market.
It was fun to see delightful cameos like Lee Meriwether, Sally Struthers, and Academy Award Winner, Shirley Jones. Shirley is known for classic musicals like Music Man and Okalahoma so to see her singing in this film was a definite highlight. Wonderful original music that range from songs like “Gays, Jews, And Girls Who Need Love,” and “I’m A Disney Whore.” A sequel is in the works. We definitely have this on our MUST WATCH list!
Go behind the scenes with the cast and crew of Waiting in the Wings the Musical to discover how they brought this gay movie musical from stage to screen in this 10 episode series, Making the Musical.
Watch the gay movie musical Waiting in the Wings now on your favorite platform!
#2 CAMP (2003)
Plotline: After a series of Broadway flops, songwriter Bert Hanley (Dixon) goes to work at a musical camp for young performers. Inspired by the kids, he finds an opportunity to regain success by staging an altogether new production.
Thoughts: We love Todd Graff from writing and directing this original movie musical. While most of the songs were iconic songs from the Broadway stage, they all worked so well in this film. It has great numbers and is one of the best original gay comedies ever made. You certainly don’t have to be gay to enjoy this movie! Any teen that had musical theatre aspirations can relate to the characters in this film.
Stephen Sondheim’s appearance in the film is certainly one of the highlights. You also will see some stars-to-be including Anna Kendrick. We were excited to find out that 14 years later, there is finally a sequel in the works! We definitely have this on our MUST WATCH list!
#3 THE BIG GAY MUSICAL (2009)
Plotline: Paul and Eddie have just begun previews for the new Off-Broadway musical “Adam and Steve Just the Way God Made ‘Em.” Their lives strangely mirror the characters they are playing.
Thoughts: It is obviously a gay comedy that focuses on the “gay plot” more than giving a lot of attention to the musical numbers. A great cast with established Broadway performers and with a cameo by porn star, Sean Paul Lockhart (a.k.a. Brent Corrigan). Brent has made a few appearances in our films including Judas Kiss and I’m a Porn Star.
If you like him in The Big Gay Musical then definitely worth exploring his other work. This is a good film, but really designed for the a target gay audience, not the average musical theatre lover. The set design for the musical numbers were not impressive, but perhaps that was intentional. We loved the original music and especially the song “I Want To Be A Slut”. We wouldn’t say this is the best musical, but perfect for a person looking for a gay film with some musical numbers thrown in.
#4 WERE THE WORLD MINE (2008)
Plotline: A bullied and demoralized gay student at an all-boys school uses a magical flower derived from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ to turn many in his community gay, including a comely rugby player for himself.
Thoughts: A film where Shakespeare meets musical theatre in a very gay way! This film has great direction and wonderful cinematography. This doesn’t just have some gay characters, but is truly a gay independent movie musical. Director, Tom Gustafson hit this one out of the ballpark! This is far from mainstream so wouldn’t invite granny over to watch it, but a great film.
#5 NAKED BOYS SINGING (2007)
Plotline: Musical Review of gay experiences as told through song, stage choreography and full male nudity.
Thoughts: While this is the “movie” version, they pretty much just filmed the stage show. Certainly the men all showed a lot of skin, but that didn’t help make it more cinematic. An unusual choice for a film, but is certainly an independent gay movie musical. If you like shows filmed from the stage, this is the one for you!
Some of the casting choices were “interesting”, but Kevin Stea’s performance certainly was a highlight. There is no real storyline, but we definitely got to see full production numbers with a talented group of guys baring it all. Our favorite numbers include “Fight The Urge,” “Naked Maid”, and “Bris Of A Blis.” Definitely not the film for everyone.
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