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It's not just a stage

by Gregg Shapiro

It's not just a stage

You've got to give Michael Longoria, Broadway performer in "Jersey Boys" and "Hairspray," credit for being ballsy. On his 2016 album "Broadway Brick by Brick" he powered his way through a set of popular songs from Broadway musicals. For his new album "Like They Do in the Movies" (Broadway), he turns his attention to songs from the cinema. Longoria begins the album with the catchy original "Kiss Me (Like They Do in the Movies)" before taking on well-known numbers "Arthur's Theme," "Evergreen," "Wind Beneath My Wings," "I Will Always Love You," "My Heart Will Go On" and "The Rose."

Bi-coastal lesbian vocalist Jen Fellman has populated her debut album "Forbidden Drive" (Broadway) with songs from a variety of sources. There are Broadway numbers ("Wherever He Ain't," "Love Look Away"), French chanson ("Mon Amant de Saint Jean," "Les Parapluies de Cherbourg"), jazz ("I Get Along Without You Very Well," "Stardust") and even an original ("New York Treasure").

Gay New Zealand transplant and musical theater performer Hayden Tee gives us divo realness on his new album "Face to Face" (Broadway). The characters in the songs he sings, many of whom he has inhabited on stage, are rebels and antagonists, and come from "Les Miserables" ("Stars," "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables"), "Cabaret" ("I Don't Care Much/So What"), "Love Never Dies" ("Til I Hear You Sing"), "Matilda" ("The Smell of Rebellion") and "Floyd Collins" ("How Glory Goes").

Orville Peck and Black Belt Eagle Scout aren't the only queer artists using stage names. You can add Jay Som (aka Melina Mae Duterte) to that list. On her third album "Anak Ko" (Polyvinyl), translated from Tagalog "My Child," Som sounds ready for mainstream stardom. The poppy shoegaze jangle of "Superbike" will grab the ears of listeners of all ages. "Nighttime Drive" feels like hipster Americana, complete with Annie Trusscott's fiddle. "Tenderness" is powered by the subtlest of synth beats before it slinks into infectious funk.

Portuguese alt-folk singer-songwriter Filipa Marinho, who goes by just Marinho, has released her debut album, "~ aka Tilde" (Street Mission). Marinho addresses the fear of abandonment on songs "I Give Up and It's OK" and "Freckles."

Gay theater composer Andrew Lippa teamed up with cartoonist-writer Jules Feiffer for a stage adaptation of Feiffer's 1993 Y/A novel "The Man in the Ceiling." Its world premiere recording (Ghostlight) features Lippa in the role of Uncle Lester, Grady Miranda as Lester's nephew Jimmy, Tony Award-winning actor Gavin Creel as Jimmy's father, and Tony nominee Kate Baldwin as Jimmy's mother.

Also based on a novel (by Ned Vizzini), the double-disc set "Be More Chill: Original Broadway Cast Recording" (Ghostlight) features music and lyrics by Joe Iconis and book by Joe Tracz. Set in the torture chamber known as high school, the musical touches on bullying, social ostracism, popularity, video games and drugs, as well as a bisexual character, Rich, played by Gerard Canonico.

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