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Interview: Michael Buchanan And Todd Buonopane of SONGS THAT MADE US GAY at The Green Room 42

Todd and Michael will encore their duo show on January 28th.

Interview: Michael Buchanan And Todd Buonopane of SONGS THAT MADE US GAY at The Green Room 42 Michael Buchanan and Todd Buonopane will return to The Green Room 42 on January 28th at 7 pm with their musical comedy cabaret SONGS THAT MADE US GAY after bringing it to New York City from Provincetown last year. The two longtime best friends and show business colleagues are also two of the industry's (heck, the world's) most visible activists for LGBTQ rights and visibility, always insisting on being unapologetically who they are, hence the title of their show.

As the best buds rehearse their show for its encore, Todd and Michael took some time out of their busy schedule to chat with Broadway World Cabaret about the songs, about being gay, and about the qualities of friendship that bonds them together.

Get tickets to SONGS THAT MADE US GAY on January 28th at 7 pm on the Green Room 42 website HERE.

This interview was conducted digitally and is reproduced without edits.

Michael Buchanan and Todd Buonopane, welcome to Broadway World!

Todd: Thank you for having us!

Michael: The pleasure is ours!

Gentlemen, you have, now, presented your musical cabaret SONGS THAT MADE US GAY in Provincetown, a well-known LGBT resort town, and New York City, a town where a lot of LGBT people live. Did you notice any general difference in the audiences of the two different towns?

Todd: If you can survive a P'town audience, you can survive anything! Hehehe. But seriously, our show has a lot of audience interaction, but sometimes those Provincetown audiences think they are also in the show. New York audiences are more sophisticated. They participate when they're supposed to. Look, I love starting in Provincetown. It was our out of town tryout. And it really helped us shape the crowd work we do with the audience. I love performing for a queer and queer-lovin' audience. You get that in both P'town and NYC.

How long had you two boyz been talking about doing a show before this one bubbled up in your collective consciousness as the one you should do?

Interview: Michael Buchanan And Todd Buonopane of SONGS THAT MADE US GAY at The Green Room 42 Michael: It was soon after Todd's brilliant one-man show, "All Washed Up" in 2021 that we started chatting about wanting to do a show like this together. Todd got the ball rolling with the idea to explore the songs throughout our youth that led us to this fabulous, proudly queer moment in our lives. So, we kind of landed pretty quickly on the idea and we started bouncing ideas off each other.

Todd, describe the moment when you and Michael knew that this was for life.

Todd: Nobody brings joy into a room like my friend, Michael Buchanan! How could you not want to be friends with him? He makes everything more fun! He makes you feel special and loved. I was immediately drawn to him. But what solidified our friendship? I think it's when we discovered our mutual love for the Muppets!

Michael, do you remember what, initially, drew you to Todd as a new friend?

Michael: I mean, when someone is able to go toe-to-toe with me on reciting the entire screenplay of "Muppets Take Manhattan", then it becomes pretty clear you've made a friend for life. Todd brings such laughter and joy into every space he inhabits and it's delightfully infectious! And, let's be clear, the talent crush was there from the get go.

In this show you both get to embrace your most personal musical aesthetics - Michael, you get to sing some rock diva hits and, Todd, you get to belt out some Broadway show tunes, all under the heading of SONGS THAT MADE US GAY. Can each of you remember, really remember, the first pieces of music in your lives that made your little gay hearts sing happy?

Todd: Somewhere in my sister's basement, there is a cassette tape of me at 7 years old singing the theme song to "Diff'rent Strokes". That sitcom wasn't inherently gay, but my performance sure was!

Michael: Well, my mom can attest I was a pretty big fan of the Swan Lake sequence from the movie version of "Funny Girl". We would sing it all the time. My favorite was to work in "...what are ya gonna do? Shoot the swans??! These lovelis??!..into dinner table conversations.

Michael, what is, genuinely, the quality that Todd possesses that you, most, admire?

Michael: His passion and care for our business. It's clear when Todd performs that he is passionate about musical theatre, but it extends beyond the stage. His strong sense of community is endlessly inspiring and I'm so proud of all the work he has done and continues to do with Actors Equity Association.

Todd, tell me about a time that Michael's friendship with you made a serious difference in your story.

Todd: Michael lived queerly outloud before it was cool! When Michael and I arrived in NYC, no one in "the biz" cared that we were gay, but we sure were expected to know how to "play it straight". Michael inspires me to live a more authentic queer life every single day.

Fellas, we've all seen a lot of change during our lifetimes - I've got about twenty years on each of you, but the lives of the LGBTQIA+ community has seen Herculean progress during our time. What was the picture that your childhood imagination created about what your future as gay men would be like?

Interview: Michael Buchanan And Todd Buonopane of SONGS THAT MADE US GAY at The Green Room 42 Michael: Ooh, that's kind of a tough one. To bring it back to my youth, I would compare it to one of those magic eye posters they used to sell at mall kiosks. The image takes some effort and time to work out, shifting my eyes to shape the picture clearly. Although I'm still working it out, each step of progress in our world helps bring the image into focus. So, it's always been changing for the better and more fabulous!

Todd: Ooooh, I love that! Magic Eye poster!!! Way to make an up to reference for the youngins! But I'll go back even further: In the 80's we used to hear that being gay was "such a lonely life". But then we make friendships like the one that Michael and I have. We are surrounded by queer love!

That being said, I am single. So if any of your BWW readers are interested in a chubby tenor that cannot cook......

Todd, have you always been able to live as an out, proud gay male, or did it take some time, adjustment, and decision?

Todd: I went to theater camp! Yup, I went to Stagedoor Manor for 7 summers. I had POSITIVE GAY ROLE MODELS! IN THE 90s!! Imagine that! I was so lucky to be able to figure myself out early.

It wasn't easy. My Catholic family sure didn't respond well, but I came out when I was 14 years old. I marched in the Boston Gay Pride March when I was 16. I'm lucky.

Michael, what is your favorite part of being an open, visible, LGB role model for other queer people?

Michael: I find so much joy in seeing someone explore their authentic self; so if I can be any sort of role model or safe queer space for someone, I'm all in! I'm so proud to be a resource/inspiration for sex positivity, HIV awareness, and even fashion. My strong queer Maxxinista vibe is really starting to trend!

Boys, other than the compositions in SONGS THAT MADE US GAY, what other forces in your lives set you up for a queer existence?

Todd: For me, it's the friendships. Yes, the first person you kiss or date is formative, but that first good queer friend you make will change your life. All those feelings and thoughts you've kept secret are now just dinner conversation. It feels like breathing for the first time when you find that person that you can be authentic with.

Michael: I have to fully agree with Todd. To know you have a good Judy to laugh and share your true self with: priceless!

Last question, gentlemen: If I came to your show and demanded that you each swap one number with the other, which song of yours would you, most, like to see your bestie perform?

Todd: OH! I'd have to take Michael's Paula Abdul number! Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" was the first single I ever bought. Knowing all the words to that song made me almost-cool for a full month of elementary school.

Michael: Hands down, it's Todd's absolutely iconic Bernadette medley he created with one of our brilliant arrangers, Kevin David Thomas! It just encapsulates how a great Broadway diva can inspire generations of queer kids and theatre lovers.

Todd and Michael, thank you for chatting with us today, and have fun with your encore of SONGS THAT MADE US GAY.

Photo credits:

The performance photos are by Austin Ruffer

The yellow studio photo is by Michael Hull

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