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Gay Adoption, the Musical: Dan Savage's Book Hits Off-Broadway

By L.K. Regan

In 1999 Dan Savage, the famous gay author of the sex column "Savage Love," published a book called The Kid, in which he describes the experience of adopting a son together with his then-boyfriend (now husband). Now, over a decade later, that book is the basis of an off-Broadway musical. That's right, it's a gay adoption musical extravaganza. And it may even be good!

"The Kid" the musical will open next week at the New Group under the direction of Scott Elliott, who is also the theater's artistic director. The music for the show is the work of MIchael Zam. Together, they feel they have come up with a musical that is true both to the original book and to the experiences of the characters. "We also wanted to create a musical that was true to the experiences of Dan Savage and his partner, Terry, capture the essence of who they were, without just imposing our own plot and music on their lives,” Zam told the New York Times. “But it was also thrilling to create a show around a person who is not your standard role-model character, who is insightful about his foibles and admits to them and who has all these powerful emotions that we knew—somehow—could be turned into powerful songs."

A big focus of the piece is treating Savage's story as the experience of a family that, "alternative" as it may appear to many Americans, sees itself as ordinary. "One of the great parts of the book was that it was political without being political, that it tells a story of two guys creating a family without having to shove the politics of that experience in America down audience members’ throats," said director Scott Elliott. In that vein, some songs in the show are centered around amusing relationship moments—such as an early fight between Savage and his boyfriend, Terry, over Icelandic singer Bjork. Another song, "I Knew," is sung by Savage's mother (played by Jill Eikenberry), who explains that she always understood that her son was gay.

Savage himself was not involved in the production of the musical, but he has seen it performed, and will attend opening night with Terry and D.J., his son. Describing seeing the show as "a surreal experience," Savage told the New York Times, "I don’t think about the memoir much now, but every day I live with the experience of adopting D.J. It was the most harrowing experience of my life. And being a father has been the happiest. Is that the stuff of a satisfying musical? I don’t really know, but I hope audiences think so."

Going to be in NYC, and want to see the show? Tickets are available on the New Group's site. If you go, let us know what you think!