TIO NYC: A Strange Loop, Go While You Can!

TIO NYC: A Strange Loop, Go While You Can!

So we keep on keeping on.  This week’s adventures included a visited to The Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory, which featured about 55 galleries selling work in support of the Henry Street Settlement. The day culminated at the Lyceum Theatre where the totally relevant, irreverent “A Strange Loop” continues to WOW the crowds. However, the multi award-winning production is scheduled to close January 15, 2023.

Go here for more about the action in New York.


It made me want to go home and write. I don’t have a better compliment than that. Lin-Manual Miranda.

Phenomenal. One of the funniest & most poignant shows I’ve ever seen. Trevor Noah.

Above and beyond brilliant. An emotional, cultural revolution. RuPaul.

I can’t say enough about how amazing this show is. Jennifer Hudson.

It’s very funny, thought-provoking, and really moving. Whoopi Goldberg.

And so on.

Accolades continue to pile up like presents under the tree on Christmas morning for “A Strange Loop,” including a Pulitzer and five Tony’s.

With regard to the laureled production the old trope “Go Big or Go Home” applies.

Michael R. Jackson’s “A Strange Loop” is a big, bold, brazen, brave, beautiful, break-through Broadway musical, a meta masterpiece about a Black queer writer writing about a Black queer writing about a Black queer writer named Usher – whose day job is ushering. In the limelight are the man’s daily struggles with desires, identity, and instincts he both loves – and loathes. Usher’s Holy Grail-like search for his better self is complete with “Black shit!,” “White shit!” and “butt-fucking!”

You heard me right.

Potty-mouthed comedians like Lenny Bruce might have set the table for Michael Jackson, but his work goes much wider and deeper than shock value. His writing holds up a mirror to our mean, prejudiced inner child in at a time when mean and prejudiced march across headlines every single day.

Newbie – Usher is his first role right out of college – Jaquel Spivey is literally made for the lead. He plays the part as as a man who is sharp as a tack and sarcastic – but also deeply wounded by the debasement that is the leitmotif of his life.

Spivey’s Usher repeatedly says that he wants to produce a “big, Black, queer-ass, American Broadway show.” But his efforts always sputter out because the man has to deal with endless bouts of heckling from his six inner thoughts who are larger than life and sing in harmony, but also triumph as individual reminders of the whys and wherefores of our hero’s fear and self-loathing. The sextet also plays to perfection Usher’s Bible-loving parents, rejecting lovers and other persistent speed bumps and potholes on our hero’s road to a happier life.

Meta meditations in “A Strange Loop” include anti-Blackness, fatphobia, homophobia – and the seemingly ubiquitous Tyler Perry, the mastermind behind 17 feature films, 20 stage plays, seven television shows. Perry the biggest thorn in Usher’s (very broad) side.

The whole notion of woke is center stage in “A Strange Loop.”

Usher’s 6 thoughts.

For a fuller story about the performance and production values read Maya Phillips review for The New York Times:

When the homophobic, God-fearing, Tyler Perry-loving mother of Usher, the protagonist of the remarkable musical “A Strange Loop,” describes her son’s art, she uses the word “radical.” She doesn’t mean it as a compliment.

But “A Strange Loop,” Michael R. Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning meta musical about a Black queer man’s self-perception in relation to his art, is radical. And I definitely mean that as a compliment…

Continue reading here.

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