It’s a myth that fondness for musicals is a trait for gay boys only. Not so! I’m a sucker for adding songs to anything. We could Once More With Feeling any show out there, and I would be down for it. I straight up own Chicago and both the movie version and the live recording of Rent. I watched Glee for far longer than was healthy for me.
Long story short, to make me happy: Put a song on it.
While I could just put a link to Cartoon Network if you wanted Sapphic characters singing and have you indulge in the optimism of Steven Universe, instead I’ll include short reviews here of some movies that you could watch with your girlfriend. Each of the following have featured in my movie nights with Ivy Quinn.
And away we go!
Girltrash: All Night Long
A deadline, a quest for your fantasy girl, a drug dealer scorned, singing (and stoned) sorority girls.
This cute little indie film tops my list of Sapphic musicals. It isn’t perfect, but there is so much to love. The plot is pretty basic: Daisy, fresh off a break-up, finds out that Band Slam has an opening, and so she and Tyler head out to get ready for their time slot. Meanwhile, Daisy’s little sister, ready to come out finally, goes in search of her crush. The scene changes are punctuated by hand-drawn cells, and there is a full musical score. Then, things start getting complicated.
See, Daisy and Tyler are being chased by Monique, who wants them to pay back the money their friend Lulu stole from her. Even though she’s swinging a nine iron at them instead of pointing a gun, she still throws a serious wrench into their plans. As does Colby’s quest to get laid by Misty, who is obsessed with Tyler. Daisy just wants to play the show!
Highlights in this film are the humor, just the way the girls interact and speak so bluntly. You’ll see in some of the lyrics. Also, the relationships. Daisy and Tyler are as best friends even though they are very different. Daisy is the kind that mates for life; Tyler is, as they say, in an open relationship with every woman in the city. Then, of course, Daisy and her little sister Colby are spot on for two sisters who rely on one another more than their parents, especially in how hard it is for Daisy to see Colby as a sexual human being who is starting to come into her own.
With frank talk about sex, and the role of fantasy in finding a partner, I find the film infinitely rewatchable. I also appreciate that while there IS a main romantic plot, NOT all of the girls end up with someone, even though you could say that all the main characters got what they were really looking for. Even Monique!
I legit downloaded this album from Amazon after watching it with my girlfriend. I like most of the songs, but below are the three that get played most on repeat. There’s also a web series that came before this, and it will fill in some of the background on the Lulu/Monique fiasco, but it is VERY different. I’m not sure how they sat down with their plot and characters and said, What if we re-envisioned this as a Musical AU? There’s even a girl in the first scene who asks why Daisy is singing. But I’m glad they did.
“By 2a.m.” – “Raise your hand if you wanna get laid tonight! If you just wanna play tonight! If you just turned gay tonight!”
“By 2a.m. I hope I’m naked with her, newborn inspired, zero attire! By 2a.m hot on a wardrobe that style. Clothes just fall off us like Marissa Tomei style!”
“Fantasy Crush” – “Don’t shit on my dream, it’s just my fantasy!”
“Oh, that’s so sweet. But see there’s only one problem. She’s so dirty she may be allergic to water.”
“Backstage, at a show, my first time sex trampoline!”
“San Fernando Rose” – “Now all my nights will have an asterisk! Much happier without you, and as I walk out here’s an ass to kiss!”
Kittens in a Cage
Like Girltrash, Kittens came out of the web series movement. However, this movie is essentially the series cut into movie format. Consequently, the narrative is very episodic and peppered with random weirdness. It feels a little like if Orange is the New Black had a baby with Grease, and then that baby dropped acid.
Junie Butler is this wide-eyed ingénue, “a real good egg, a solid egg, what will contribute to society!” Or so she says. In reality, she grew up in a low income area, had crappy friends, and took the fall for a bank robbery. As much as she proclaims, “I ain’t done nuthin’!” Junie has a long history of gang association, shot a woman in the neck, and stabbed a guard. “Just a little stabbin’ and shootin’. What anybody woulda done!”
Don’t joke. She has a hard time with morals and rules. Chaotic neutral.
That’s why hooking up with an arsonist in prison isn’t that big a deal, since she can rationalize pretty much anything that is set in front of her. Theft? Youthful hijinks. Cannibalism? Eh, we’ve all done bad things.
As the plot unfolds, things get weirder. There are experiments on the prisoners, Junie makes friends with everyone <3, and then makes enemies. And then there are some demon babies and a talent show.
The music is rock. It isn’t a full musical, but rather the numbers start with Junie signing, and after that, bloom into fantasy. But she’s really singing in the narrative itself.
My only qualm about this movie is really how they manage to have such a glaringly white cast in prison, despite the clear source material from a show that has a ton of women of color. Granted, OITNB isn’t on my viewing list anymore. (RIP Poussey ;__;) Nancy the prison guard is unfortunately in love with the matron, who treats her like a pet, and while that speaks more to the matron’s character than poor Nancy’s, it’s EXTREMELY uncomfortable. Nancy deserved so much better.
But in the wacky logic of a musical where they sing about shivving someone in the shower, on the whole, this film was a lot of fun. You’ll see a lot of common faces, too. Robin Thorsen and Felicia Day from The Guild. Misha Collins. Jillian Armenante. The last of whom you may not know by name, but have probably seen as a minor character in a little bit of everything. I think her role here as a lesbian cannibal is probably her best.
Most people who have actively participated in social media in the past five years probably recognize Team Starkid for good or ill. While most famous for their Harry Potter parodies, this theatre troupe has a number of other raucously funny, deeply touching, and deliciously irreverent musicals, and Firebringer doesn’t stray far from their standard fair.
Except in this musical, Lauren Lopez (who played Draco in A Very Potter Musical) finally gets to play the lead. Starring opposite is Meredith Stepien, who also co-wrote the musical. This would be your average musical about Stone Age humans (as you do), full of jokes roasting human kind for ruining the environment and scatological references. Lopez plays Zazzalil, a minor worker in the tribe, whose job it is to gather nuts and berries with her friend Keeri all day. Her aspirations are simple: Create innovative ways to do things, so she can BE LAZY.
So relatable, right? You’re more likely to have seen this gif circling the internet before anything else.
This song plays in my head on a daily basis.
Anyway, Stepien’s character Jemilla is the tribe leader, who is very responsible and caring. In her efforts to do what is best for the tribe, Jemilla doesn’t listen to Zazzalil’s ideas, leading to Zazzalil’s resentment and increasingly erratic rebellions in an attempt to not only change their lives, but shove it in Jemilla’s face.
And then, she discovers FIRE.
Firebringer is interesting not just because the humor is so relatable. Molag our narrator calls the audience “privileged fucks” over and over. This musical probably has more profanity than any of Starkid’s other productions thus far. It actively attacks the human race for being irresponsible with the environment while concurrently praising everything we could be. Jemilla and Zazzalil are strikingly different but complementary in their desires to make things better.
Another interesting thing is that basically, everyone is bisexual. Tiblyn has a crush on both Chorn, an agender character, and Smelly-Balls, an overly aggressive cave-dude. Jemilla has the option to leave her tribe for multiple husbands and wives. And best of all, when Jemilla and Zazzalil decide to work together to save their tribe, Zazzalil offers herself as Jemilla’s wife.
And they sing a song about how they should, “Do It Together” as they run to save their friends.
All in all, I love this from top to bottom. From our trolling narrator Molag who lies to us over and over and makes fun of us, to the poster-child for inspiration over perspiration Zazzalil, to the well-intentioned but overly protective Jemilla. Also, shout out to poor Tiblyn, with the weight of the world on her shoulders, and Emberly, who is just adorable.
If I had a few qualms, it is that Emberly and Grant/Grunt’s scenes go on FOREVER. It’s an unwarranted amount of time to developing their relationship, especially when the first one established their attracting just fine with both dialogue and then a song, and then they get both dialogue and a song in their second scene. They ought to have either made the “One Taste” song SHORTER (my preference), or cut the second song. I started to roll my eyes, honestly.
My other gripe is that some of that time could’ve been given to Tiblyn, who only gets a solo in the big finale number and a team part in “The Night Belongs to Him,” and her voice SO beyond. Also, I feel completely cheated that Jemilla and Zazzalil don’t get a kiss in the end. Though both characters do kiss other girls during the course of the musical, so I’m not sure why this decision was made.
But overall, Firebringer brings it. The harmonies are SO tight, and I found myself giggling for days afterward whenever I thought of some of the jokes in this one.