“A Strange Loop” is stunning audiences on Broadway! Michael R. Jackson, the book, music and lyric creator, is sharing a very personal story with the audience through the lead character of Usher. Jackson is telling the traumas he suffered growing up an as Black, overwreight gay man. Jackson was looking for love, acceptance and understanding, but instead found rejection, condemnation and criticism from his mother, father and brother. No one was on his side. No one spoke up on his behalf. Jackson lets the audience experience his Thoughts—his fears, doubts, worries, frustration and insecurities—through Usher and the performances of six incredible actors who play Thoughts 1 through 6 and also switch off on playing his mother and his father. The actors also play his brother and friends. Usher is a Black, fat gay man, who is a theater usher and has aspirations of writing a musical about a Black, fat gay man, writing a musical about a Black, fat gay man.

Usher constantly questions his ability to write this musical, and takes the audience step-by-step through his concerns and ideas. Although he desperately needs money to pay his student loans at NYU, Usher fights tooth and nail to adhere to his principles. He is given the opportunity to ghost-write a gospel musical for Tyler Perry, something his mother has also been encouraging him to do. If he’s going to write a musical, she begs him, write a gospel music like Tyler Perry, because he only writes Black gospel musicals that reflect “real life.” Usher is hilarious as he creates a spoof, depicting different stereotypical Black women characters that Perry features in his musicals. The audience was in tears, they were laughing so hard.

Usher’s parents are church-going folks who have told him his whole life that being gay is a sin. They hold out hope that he will “stop this.” His mother wants him to get married and give her grandchildren. His parents constantly ask if he’s having sex with men and whether he has HIV. Not the most comfortable family conversation. Between Usher and his six personifications of his thoughts, which cover emotions such as self-loathing and sexual ambivalence, we have a young man who is truly struggling to find meaning, love and acceptance in his life. One of the sad aspects of Usher’s desperation for physical love is that he is rejected by Black gay men and has to engage in sex with older white men.

The cast of this musical has talent that is OFF-THE-CHARTS! Jaquel Spivey, who plays Usher and is making his Broadway debut, brings both compassion and empathy to the role. He also has a wonderful singing voice. The other six actors give some of the most powerful, hilarious and memorable performances you will experience and include Antwayn Hopper, James Jackson Jr., L Morgan Lee, John-Michael Lyons, John-Andrew Morrison and Jason Veasey. One of the fantastic aspects of this musical is the non-traditional casting and how actors switch in the same role. Usher’s mother is played with a great deal of humor and heart by both Jackson and Morrison. Usher’s father is terrifically portrayed by both Hopper and Veasey.

“A Strange Loop” is performed with raw language, but when we think of our short-comings, fears and disappointments, are we not hard on ourselves and use raw language as we think about what we consider our shortcomings? Jackson is just bold enough to put the words on the stage for all to hear.

This musical, which has delightful choreography by Raja Feather Kelly, can also boast marvelous direction by Stephen Brackett. “A Strange Loop” is shining a light and gives a voice to a group of people—LGBTQIA, that is often ridiculed and made to feel less than human. This musical says they are here, they deserve to live, love and feel special and appreciated just like anyone else. When you go to see “A Strange Loop” bring someone with you who needs that love, recognition, appreciation and a chance to laugh as hard and long as humanly possible.

“A Strange Loop” is playing at the Lyceum Theatre on West 45th Street. Go experience this one-of-a-kind musical!

Visit www.strangeloopmusical.com for more information.

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