Is It Time for Manly Men to Come Out of the Closet?
It’s Father’s Day, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about musicals and men. There’s a stereotype that if you’re a man and you like musicals, you’re probably gay (or Jewish, or intellectual) – if you haven’t seen Neil Patrick Harris’ opening number from the 2011 Tony awards, Broadway Is Not Just for Gays Anymore, you must. (If you have seen it, I’m betting you’ll probably click this link to see it again…). I have fallen victim to this stereotype myself, I’m ashamed to say, when a friend of mine told me about a bunch of married men he knew who were in New York and chose to go to see Mamma Mia! while their wives were out shopping. I supported his wife’s assertion that they were probably gay (whether they knew it or not). Later, I reflected that most men would prefer going to a musical than go shopping (another stereotype, perhaps?), and of course, I know lots of straight men who willingly and sometimes even enthusiastically go to see and participate in musicals, including mine. Why should homosexuals have a monopoly on good taste, after all?
So, if you’re a man looking for a musical or a woman looking to take a man to a musical, what shows might you choose? To answer this question, I mined the data from my Calgary Musicals MeetUp Group, which includes about 20% men, most of whom are straight, as far as I know. I ask everyone when they join for a short list of a few of their favourite musicals (see my earlier post on this topic for my list). This is admittedly a biased sample, as it includes the minority of men who a) join groups and b) are self-declared (and unashamedly) musical theatre buffs, but it gives you a bit of an idea of what men say they like.
Most of the big names were there, but the top three mentions were: Les Miserables, Sweeney Todd and Phantom of the Opera. Other popular suggestions were Wicked, Chicago, Fiddler on the Roof, Cats, The Sound of Music, Godspell and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Were these on the women’s lists? Absolutely. Were there many shows on the women’s lists that weren’t on the men’s lists? Not really. This would suggest that Applause Meter’s Jessica Goldman might not be on the right track when she divides up her theatre review recommendations by gender. I know the men I took to Pinkalicious and Little Women (musicals that are as chick-friendly as they come) liked them as much as I did, which just goes to show that a good performance of a great story can appeal to just about anyone (or maybe they were just intellectuals ;)).
I think you might get a different answer if you were looking for shows that a man, especially a younger man, who’s not normally interested in musicals (or theatre at all for that matter) might like. In that case, you might get more votes for contemporary shows that are unabashedly funny, sexy, spoofy, familiar, and/or action-oriented, like The Rocky Horror Show, Evil Dead The Musical (coming to Calgary in August), Avenue Q, Spamalot, Little Shop of Horrors, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, Spiderman, or Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Musicals like Queen’s We Will Rock You, Green Day’s American Idiot, or Rock of Ages (the latter of which is coming to Calgary this Fall) might also be appealling, if they’re a fan of the music/group. My husband would add rock musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar (me too!), Hair, and Tommy to this list (but definitely NOT Mamma Mia!). Check out some of the links below for more suggestions by other “real” men, some serious and some not so much.
Perhaps it’s not that heterosexual men don’t like musicals; it’s just that they’re afraid to admit it! To quote my favourite manly musical man, Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, “It’s time to take some action boys. It’s time to follow me,” and come out of the closet. All you dads out there, how about taking your son to a musical this year and showing him that real men really DO like musical theatre after all? Maybe you’ll both be pleasantly surprised.
Happy Father’s Day
Fun links about men and musicals:
The 8 Manliest Musicals (by category): cracked.com
And if that’s not enough, how about 31 Manly Musicals: trendhunter.com
An online chat from men on the topic of musicals for the hairier sex: Empire On-line
A great U-Tube Video by a young bald man in a Hummer T-shirt: Top 5 Man Musicals
Video “reviews” of TV shows and movies, including several movie-musicals, by a balding young man in a lumberjack shirt – is there a pattern here? – because he’s man enough to take it : Thoroughly Manly Musicals (The Agony Booth)
Take a Quiz: Identify the musical from these imagined marketing ploys targetted at men: Musicals for Real Men
And finally … why a man shouldn’t let his woman watch too many musicals if he values his love life: West End Geek