The New Old Gays

“How old is he?” I asked.

“Oh, Footloose the musical, not the movie!” Kevin said. “Anyway. I got a cat and named it after him.” Kevin’s favorite actors are Idina Menzel, Patti LuPone, Liza Minnelli, Jennifer Holliday (the original singer of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” in the 1982 Broadway production of Dreamgirls) and Sutton Foster, whose rise to stardom could be a Broadway show in itself: As a chorus girl in Thoroughly Modern Millie, she was chosen to be the lead during rehearsals, and won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical in 2002. A nearby table erupted in song as “Good Morning Baltimore!” from the recent film version of Hairspray came on the screen.

“I’m glad there’s a forum for the people that need it,” said 28-year-old lawyer Andy Lupin, who was standing somewhat sheepishly by a table of singing men. Mr. Lupin said he had only been to Musical Mondays twice before. “A novice can get into it, too! I’ve been to Marie’s Crisis. I actually know more than I expect to.”

Barbra Streisand was singing “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” from the 1968 film Funny Girl. It was the scene when she gets off the train and the music stops. Everyone at Splash yelled out, in unison: “Run, bitch, run!” Then Ms. Streisand started running.

“It’s our most popular happy hour,” said one of the bartenders, a muscular man named Calli who gave his age as “mid-30s” and said he was from London. He was wearing a teeny tiny pair of Diesel briefs, and said he was an actor—“stage, TV, commercials.” “The designers want us to wear their stuff, to promote it,” he said.

“I got into theater through musical theater,” said Adam Thompson, a 26-year-old actor and director who moved to New York one month ago from Boston, and works as a development associate at Career Transition for Dancers. We met at a Starbucks near his Times Square office. “I’m from a suburban town in Connecticut, and I could go in my room and turn on Phantom and be in my own world. From my experience within the past 10 to 15 years, there’s lots of oppression you deal with without even realizing it. Through musical theater, you have the opportunity to be larger than life. It’s like you’re overcompensating for the fact that you can’t ever be yourself. All of the being yourself gets pushed down.” Nonetheless, Mr. Thompson, who runs an ensemble theater company called the Deconstructive Theatre Project, said he’s focusing on darker, more political theatrical material these days. “I’m more interested in confronting the world than running away from it,” he said.

On Sunday afternoon, the audience had just settled into their seats for the matinee of Gypsy when a voice came over the speakers instructing the audience members to turn off their cell phones, unwrap any hard candies and so on and so forth. And then: “Patti LuPone has injured her foot.” Collective intake of breath. “And so she will be performing today wearing Isotoners.” She got a standing ovation.

The New Old Gays