Justin Vivian Bond to Headline B'Way Production of 'Tales of the City'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday June 21, 2021

Mx. Justin Vivian Bond
Mx. Justin Vivian Bond  (Source:Screenshot/Joe's Pub/YouTube)

Ten years after its first production in San Francisco, "Tales of the City, The Musical" is headed to Broadway with Justin Vivian Bond in the role of Anna Madrigal — a historic first, Playbill noted.

When the one-night-only benefit performance takes place next March, Bond "will make history as the first actor who identifies as transgender to play a trans character on Broadway."

Bond — whose honorific is Mx., and whose pronoun is v — praised Judy Kaye's turn as Mrs. Madrigal in the show's 2011 world premiere, calling her "amazing, but even so, I was a little disappointed that they didn't have a trans woman playing the part of Anna Madrigal."

The popular novel series by Armistead Maupin follows the adventures of the tenants at the fictitious address of 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco. Their leader — and spiritual mother — is transgender woman Anna Madrigal. Olympia Dukakis played the role of Mrs. Madrigal in all four TV miniseries adaptations of the novels.

Bond addressed the issue of trans actors not being cast in trans roles, saying, "I think for a long time the excuse for not casting trans people was because they didn't have the chops, but now because there are becoming more and more trans roles, people are becoming more open minded about how they cast their shows in the first place. They are rethinking historical plays or reviving plays with nontraditional casting.

"I think it gives trans people an opportunity to develop this artist and hone their craft," v added.

Playbill took note of the stage adaptation's creators: Jeff Whitty ("Avenue Q") wrote the book, while "Scissor Sisters" frontman Jake Shears and John Garden wrote the musical score.

"Bond, Shears, and Whitty have been friends since their early start in the East Village," Playbill detailed.

Bond waxed nostalgic about the days when "we all lived on the same block and had coffee every morning with Jason [Jake Shears] and Ana [Matronic]... And then the next thing you know everybody is world famous or winning Tonys like Jeff [Whitty] did [for 'Avenue Q']."

Bond went on to say that it will be "kind of nice to all be coming together on that night."

Bond is no stranger to Broadway, having appeared on the Great White Way a decade ago in "Kiki & Herb: Alive on Broadway," as Playbill noted, but v said that v would probably not be interested in signing up for more than a one-night gig. "It's such hard work," v said of starring in a Broadway show.

That doesn't mean Bond couldn't be tempted if the right show came along. "I saw 'Hello, Dolly!' the other day," v told Playbill. "I'd be happy to step into that role!"

Playbill reported earlier this month that the American Conservatory Theatre is celebrating Pride this year with a 10th-anniversary streaming edition of the original production as caught on film.

"The film capture streams June 21—27 on Broadway on Demand," the story detailed.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.