*Broadway is awash with Tony award-winning musicals where protagonists stop at nothing to achieve their dreams. But there has never been a dream-fulfilling musical like “A Strange Loop,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning story by Michael R. Jackson.
“‘A Strange Loop’ is a musical about a young Black gay man (Usher) who is working as an usher at a Broadway show and writing a musical about a young Black gay man who is working as an usher at a Broadway show,” Jackson, a Detroit native, said.
The production didn’t begin as an ensemble musical about his self-perception. Instead, he looked through a first-person singular lens for the show.
“It started off as a monologue, a thinly veiled monologue that I wrote right after I graduated from undergrad in 2002 or 2003. That was at that time something for me because I was 22 or 23 years old and not sure of my place in the world. I just wanted to sort of try to give myself a little bit of a life raft to sort of understand what was going on with me,” Jackson recalled. “I never expected to go to Broadway. In the earlier stages of working on ‘A Strange Loop,’ I was ushering at Broadway theatres. So, I saw what was onstage. I couldn’t imagine that my sort of punk rock kind of musical could ever be on the stage.”
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Jackson’s production will be on the stage of the Lyceum Theatre on the Great White Way beginning Tuesday, April 26, 2022. As the playwright, lyricist, and composer of “A Strange Loop,” he promises music that’s spicy and ear warming.
“People can expect music that sounds like perhaps traditional musical theatre in one aspect. But completely subverted by the content in another. I’m very much like a lyricist who is not afraid to go there in terms of what is being said. I deliver that often. Very spicy lyrics. Music that is really catchy and ear warming,” Jackson, an NYU Tisch School of the Arts graduate, proclaimed. “‘ A Strange Loop’ is a musical that invites everyone in to meet the content and form of it wherever they are in the world. It is really an exciting and powerful and funny story. I think that people from all walks of life and people who say they love musicals will enjoy it, and people who say they hate musicals will enjoy it.”
Jackson says some of the people in the show have been working with him for ten years to help him develop a fine-tuned show that people will find stimulating.
“We all worked really hard on this production to make sure that all of the elements, which include choreography, direction, music, lights, sets, and costume, that they’re all working toward this idea of a big Black and queer American Broadway show, which is one of the refrains in the opening number.”
“A Strange Loop” is directed by Stephen Brackett, and the cast features, among others, Jaquel Spivey making his Broadway debut as Usher.
Tené Croom is a Pittsburgh-based journalist and PR expert. Contact her via www.linkedin.com/in/tenecroom.