Go west! Gay storylines are drawing crowds to theatres in London's West End and fringe

The best of times is now, goes the song in La Cage aux Folles. And so it would seem for gay plays and musicals. No fewer than 10 productions currently in London's West End feature gay themes or talent.

Box-office successes for Jason Donovan in the transvestite road trip Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; Alan Bennett's biographical Enjoy, and Graham Norton in the award-winning La Cage have shattered the widely held belief that gay theatre doesn't sell.

Gradually, gay productions have taken a stronghold over ticket sales to an unprecedented level. Nicholas de Jongh, theatre critic and writer of Plague over England, believes theatre producers may have at last realised gay plays do bring in audiences. "There are a lot of gay plays and musicals around; in fact, I don't ever remember seeing more. For years producers thought anything specifically gay was a no-go in terms of bringing in large audiences. But the success of La Cage and Priscilla seems to be proving them wrong. I've been watching the audiences who come to see my play, which deals with a gay witch-hunt in the 1950s, and these audiences are just as varied. I'm not sure of the significance, but it is a fact."

But Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay, lesbian and bisexual campaign group Stonewall, said: "The fact that there are seven or eight major productions with gay themes or characters is probably nothing more than an unlikely alignment of the platforms. I would be surprised if there were the same number this time next year."

Plague over England

Nicholas de Jongh, Duchess Theatre

Premiered at the Finborough Theatre last year; run ends 2 May

Cast highlights: Michael Feast knew Gielgud personally, while Celia Imrie shines as Dame Sybil Thorndike.

Synopsis: Critic-turned-writer de Jongh re-creates 1950s bohemian London in this story of John Gielgud's 1953 arrest in a public lavatory for "importuning men for immoral purposes".

The Backroom

Adrian Pagan, Cock Tavern Theatre; Ends 2 May

Cast highlights: Neil Cunningham and Will Stokes

Synopsis: Rivalry erupts among the sex workers in a gay brothel in Earls Court as the new boy quickly becomes a favourite.

Zanna, Don't!

Tim Acito, Space; Runs 5-9 May, then 9 June-5 July Upstairs at the Gatehouse in north London

Cast highlights: Mike Shearer leads; Michael Cotton, Kate Malyon and Michael Stacey follow

Synopsis: A comic parody in which a musical matchmaker and friends in a fantasy homosexual world are rocked by a clandestine heterosexual relationship.

La Cage aux Folles

Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman, Playhouse Theatre; Has been at the Playhouse since 20 October

Cast highlights: Graham Norton and Steven Pacey are set to be replaced by Roger Allam and Philip Quast from 4 May.

Synopsis: Farcical sexual identity adventure surrounds lovers Georges and Albin when Georges' son announces his engagement to the daughter of an ultra-conservative local politician.

Fucking Men

Joe DiPietro, King's Head, Islington; Run extended until 6 June

Cast highlights: Stephen Billington and Matthew Clancy

Synopsis: A series of 10 sexual encounters, flowing from the initial fumblings of a soldier and a male prostitute, highlighting varying attitudes towards sex and love in the gay community.

Three Days of Rain

Richard Greenberg, Apollo Theatre; Running from 30 January to 2 May

Cast highlights: James McAvoy, Nigel Harman and Lyndsey Marshal glow through the downpour.

Synopsis: A brother and sister meet a friend to discover the dynamics behind the relationship between their fathers in the same flat a generation previously.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Stephen Elliott and Allan Scott, Palace Theatre; In London since 23 March 23

Cast highlights: Jason Donovan takes the lead (giving a fresh angle to the many Kylie references throughout), alongside Tony Sheldon and Oliver Thornton.

Synopsis: Two drag queens and a transsexual embark on the campest of road trips through the Australian outback.

Proud

John Stanley, Above the Stag Theatre; On a four-week run since 14 April

Cast highlights: Jay Brown and Nic Gilder

Synopsis: A gay boxer attempts to spend his 18th birthday party with his family, his significantly senior lover and his homophobic trainer.

Entertaining Mr Sloane

Joe Orton, Trafalgar Studios; Ran from 29 January to 11 April

Cast highlights: Mathew Horne's star was nearly outshone by the brilliant Imelda Staunton, though audiences were entertained equally by Simon Paisley Day.

Synopsis: Bisexual blackmail and brutal violence as a brother and sister entrap a handsome con man and murderer.

Enjoy

Alan Bennett, Gielgud Theatre; Running from 2 February until 16 May

Cast highlights: Alison Steadman and David Troughton star in a rarely performed gem.

Synopsis: This early work by Bennett is replete with voyeurism, casual violence, gender-swapping, inferred incest and rampant sexual comedy.

Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson on stage

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
art

‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project