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33 years later, a reunion of queer musical ‘Some of my best friends are’ still shines

Bill Ebbesmeyer, performing the song "Hoosier Boy" from "Some of my best friends are" on October 20, in front of a screen showing his 1989 performance of the same song.
Danny Wicentowski
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In front of a video projection of the original 1989 performance, cast members Christy Simmons, Bill Ebbesmeyer and Mary Schnitzler perform "Hoosier Boy" from the play "Some of my best friends are" on Oct. 20.

In 1989, the groundbreaking musical “Some of my best friends are” hit the St Louis theater scene, becoming the first example of queer culture being openly depicted on a St. Louis stage. The play, with its then-controversial subject matter, was a hit, running three months to sold-out audiences.

Last month, the play returned for a one-night only performance at the Missouri History Museum, reuniting much of the original cast to sing songs like “There’s a Judge in My Bedroom” and “Hoosier Boy.”

“Once the show opened, it really did just explode,” recalled Bill Ebbesmeyer, one of the original cast members, who spoke to St. Louis on the Air during rehearsals before the Oct. 20 show. Along with Ebbesmeyer, the full cast consisted of Jonas Moses, Kate Durbin, Terry Meddows, Steve Milloy, Mary Schnitzler and Synthia Jinx.

“The audiences embraced us like we were just the best things that hit St. Louis, and we loved it,” he said. “Because we did — we embraced them right back. It was one of those things that we just felt their love. And we had to give it back.”

Joan Lipkin, co-creator of the 1989 musical "Some of my best friends are," and the founder and artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company in St. Louis.
Danny Wicentowski
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Joan Lipkin, co-creator of the 1989 musical "Some of my best friends are," and the founder and artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company in St. Louis.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, the musical's writer and co-creator, Joan Lipkin, discussed the legacy of “Some of my best friends are,” and reflected on the recent reunion performance.

The 1989 production “was incredible,” said Lipkin, the founder and artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company in St. Louis.

“We used to joke that we should’ve had a frequent flier badge because people would come, and often they would come back repeatedly,” she recalled. “They would have their own experience, and it would move and engage them. So that then they would want to bring back family members and neighbors and friends, often as a way of coming out to them or to saying to them, ‘This is what my world looks like.’”

For more on the legacy of “Some of my best friends are,” including clips from the original 1989 cast’s performance of “There’s a judge in my bedroom,” listen to Joan Lipkin’s interview on St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast or Stitcher or by clicking the play button below.

Joan Lipkin reflects 33 years after 'Some of my best friends are' changed St. Louis

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Danny Wicentowski is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."

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