EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERVIEW
Below are excerpts from the March 30, 2017 Metro Weekly interview with composer Michael John LaChiusa about Los Otros.
OTHER PEOPLE: MICHAEL JOHN LaCHIUSA
When it comes to age, Broadway composer Michael John LaChiusa doesn’t hesitate in describing his own.
“I’m old!” says the 54-year-old. “That’s invisible in the gay community. It was fascinating to me when I turned 50 and I went, ‘Oh, I’m invisible!’ But there’s something kind of comforting, and very freeing, in that as well. As any 50-year-old, or any older man, can tell you.”
As a self-described older gay man, LaChiusa feels a sense of duty to the younger generation, “to support them in their journey through the exploration and discovery of themselves. It’s very important for old men like myself to help them these days. There’s still a lot of bias, and still a lot of bigotry, and we have to always confront that, and fight it when necessary, and resist the forces that want us to not be who we are.”
Those anti-LGBTQ forces see us as “the others.” And that’s the topic — as well as the name, in Spanish — of Los Otros, a new musical collaboration between LaChiusa and his early mentor and frequent collaborator Ellen Fitzhugh, who wrote the book and lyrics. Los Otros “is about the encounters with those who we think of as the others,” he says. “Through learning their stories and having encounters with the others, we realize that we [all] are the others.”
Partly drawn from Fitzhugh’s life growing up in California, Los Otros focuses on a relationship between a white woman and a Mexican man, principally exploring issues of race, ethnicity and gender. “It does touch on sexual orientation, and in quite a beautiful way, too,” LaChiusa says, adding, “I don’t want to spoil how it all plays itself out.”
There is also a timeliness to Los Otros, given the current political climate. “What we’re dealing with — border issues and the immigration law and this nonsense that’s happening in Washington — it is…unfortunately timely,” LaChiusa says.
But he does see reason for hope, pointing to the Republican debacle to repeal Obamacare. LaChiusa is convinced that happened in large part as a result of the many anti-repeal calls he and other citizens made to elected officials, something he says “everybody should be doing, almost on a daily basis.”
“I think they do listen to those calls, and they do pay attention to it,” he continues. “There have been so many responses to that particular issue, for instance, you can see that there is the chance for change.”