The producers and director of “A Strange Loop,” the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, have no plans to bring the curtain down for good anytime soon.
Michael R. Jackson, the author, composer and lyricist, created a story about aspirations that seem to be unreachable. Usher, the lead character, has dreams that appear cloudy due to the thoughts in his head. In “A Strange Loop,” thoughts are characters identified with a number.
Earlier this year, L Morgan Lee, cast in the role of “Thought 1,” received a Tony nomination in the category “Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical.” The native from Bowie and Greenbelt, Md., is one of six “Thoughts” crowding Usher’s mind and spirit. Lee further counts as the first openly-transgender performer to be nominated for a Tony Award.
In 2015, Jackson approached Lee to do a reading for “A Strange Loop.” She has been with the production during workshop stages, through a pre-Broadway run at Woolly Mammoth Theatre in the District, off-Broadway and now on the current Broadway run.
“I looked at some of the clips he sent me and I was knocked over by how raw the material was,” Lee said when she first looked at Jackson’s vision. “He was saying things that people just don’t say publicly. There was something alluring to me about the idea of uncovering these things that we consider taboo and connecting to humans like humans.”
Of course, the final move to Broadway would be delayed several times with prerequisite pandemic-related complications. Those delays opened doors for Lee with productions that she could not have envisioned.
“I ended up doing more work through Zoom than I had ever done in my life,” Lee said joyfully. “There were so many shows, plays and different projects in development here in the U.S. and internationally. It was as if the world needed to turn upside down for me to get to Broadway.”
The promotional verbiage for “A Strange Loop” calls the production “the big, Black and queer-ass Great American Musical for all.” That one-liner conjures up a range of thought-provoking ideas that audiences experience from the outstanding cast. Relationships with families, friends and others we love come to life through Usher’s eyes in this musical.
Lee admits the role of “Thought 1” in “A Strange Loop” allowed her to play a woman on a journey. The road to Broadway allowed for openness and sharing herself with the world as a transgender woman. Lee feels the process has been an opportunity to tell stories more truthfully. She had considered leaving the production as her transition process began but the support Lee received made her view things differently.
“We think you being in this piece is going to make the reach a little bit bigger,” Lee said the production team told her.
“A Strange Loop” has definitely gotten bigger. The musical, currently at the Lyceum Theatre in New York, has surpassed the 100 performance mark with the run open-ended with ticket availability through Jan. 23, 2023, and same-day rush tickets available for purchase.
Jackson, the creator of the successful musical, said he’s already working on his next project.
“I’m working on a new piece called ‘White Girl in Danger’ that will go up next year off-Broadway,” Jackson said during a chat before entering the Lyceum Theatre.
For more information about “A Strange Loop,” go to https://strangeloopmusical.com. Follow “A Strange Loop” on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube at @strangeloopbway.