It may just become the gayest musical of the decade — and that’s saying something when Xanadu is already out there. On March 14, Tony-winning Avenue Q co-writer Jeff Whitty and Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears announced they are adapting Armistead Maupin’s novel Tales of the City into a Broadway musical. Whitty says he first broached the idea of adapting Maupin’s intertwining stories of late-’70s San Francisco with Shears, an old friend, early last year. Also a huge Tales fan, Shears leapt on board and began working on the music and lyrics with Sisters tour keyboardist John ”JJ” Garden while Whitty crafted the book, all in consultation with Maupin. ”To be honest,” laughs Shears, ”[JJ and I] have no idea what we’re doing. It’s made it really exciting.” While Whitty says they plan a ”super-top-secret” reading of the show’s first draft this week — er, guess it’s out now — a full version likely won’t be ready until the 2009-2010 theater season.
The 1994 PBS miniseries adaptation of Tales caused controversy for its unabashed rendering of gay sexuality, but Whitty doesn’t anticipate that will be an issue with the musical. ”[Tales] has strong characters of pretty much every orientation,” he says. ”It’ll definitely have gay moments, but without saying too much, there will also be a moment in the first 20 minutes that’ll make straight boys sit up and pay attention.”