“Too Wong Foo” Musical Inches Toward Broadway

It's a say-something hat day.

From Priscilla to Kinky Boots, Broadway has had its share of drag movies turned into Broadway musicals. But loosen your girdle, because there’s about to be one more: Douglas Carter Beane is workshopping a stage version of his 1995 drag classic, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.


Right now To Wong Foo: The Musical is just being workshopped but with Beane writing the script and directing—and his husband, Lewis Flinn, writing the score—we smell a sure thing. And the workshop cast includes heavy hitters like Daniel Breaker, Alice Ripley, Ann Harada, and Annie Golden.

Santino Fontana (below) is playing Vida Boheme, Patrick Swayze’s role in the film. He won’t even have to untuck: Fontana is also playing the gender-bending lead in the upcoming Broadway musical version of Tootsie.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for American Theatre Wing)

Talking to the New York Post, Beane describes the music for Wong Foo as “very Americana by way of Aaron Copland—there’s an opera vibe to it, and it’s very open-hearted.”

While some theatergoers bemoan the rush of movie adaptations heading to the Great White Way, Beane says he originally envisioned the film as a stage production. “I was a struggling writer trying to break into the theater,” he recalled. “I was working as a nanny in Brooklyn, and every time the family went on vacation, I’d write a play. I started working on ‘To Wong Foo’ but couldn’t figure out how to put a car onstage. So I turned it into a screenplay instead.”

Normally there’d be a lot of finagling with the movie studio, but when Beane signed on as the film’s screenwriter, he secured the stage rights from Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment.

“I think they thought that was endearing,” he tells the Post’s Michael Riedel. “‘Isn’t that sweet? He likes to do wood carving, too.’ So they patted me on the head—and gave them to me.”

Beane, who has also worked on stage productions of As Bees in Honey Drown, Xanadu and Sister Act., is also prepping a Robin Hood musical likely to debut in 2019.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.