Controversial Shows on Broadway

Freedom of expression runs wild on the Broadway stages and some of the shows have pushed the limits of what is acceptable in society in general and theatre. The list contains some of the shows that stretched the boundaries.

The Full Monty

The Full Monty, which was adapted from the movie in 1997, tell a story of 6 men who are unemployed, Buffalo steel workers who are desperate for work and decides to do a strip act for an income at the local club. The show deals with suicide, desperation, nudity and homosexuality. But on the positive side the show is uplifting with a story that portrays how each of the men deals differently with problems, besides the debt and their insecurities about their bodies. This show made its debut on stage in 2000 and has since been revived across North America to Asia and across the globe. The show’s original production was nominated for 9 Tony Awards but did not manage to win any.

Avenue Q

Avenue Q, can probably be best described as a Sesame Street fusion with Rent and covers drugs, gay relationships, racism and sex and also includes pornography addiction to the internet. The storyline takes the audience to New York where Priceton settles into an apartment in fictional Q Avenue and meets neighbour Kate Monster. She is a kindergarten teacher and he also meets Brian an unemployed comedian who has a Japanese American fiancé. Trekkie Monster is an addict of internet porn and the apartment superintendent is Gary Coleman. The show opened in 2003 off-Broadway and moved 4 months later to the Broadway stage. In total the show won 4 Tony Awards.

The Rocky Horror Show

The Rocky Horror Show

The Rocky Horror Show started in West End, London in 1973 and has gone on to have a cult following it. The story involves a conservative couple called Janet and Brad who finds themselves in the mad scientist castle after car trouble. Frank is a sweet transvestite, which surrounds himself with bikers, which are space aliens. The show is covered in overt sexuality and strange characters, audience participation is encouraged and asks participants to throw certain items onto the stage. The show comes on to stage in 1975, the same year the film was releases and have since been to Australia, Europe and North America and has been revived in both West End theatres and Broadway.


Hair hits the Broadway stage in the height of the anti-Vietnam war movement and represents sexual and culture revolution. Hair broke down the boundaries with sexuality, racial integration and political rebellion in the late sixties. The show is about a long-haired tribe of hippies that fights the Vietnam War and navigates through a world of drugs, inequality and homosexuality. The group’s leader is the bewildered hippy Claude struggling with the decision to give into his responsibility or burn his draft card. He chooses to go off and fight and when he is killed, mourned by his friends. Hair debuts first off Broadway in October 1967 and 6 months later moves onto the Broadway stage. In 1979 it was made into a movie and has featured on stages in a myriad of time across the world, including two revivals in 1997 and 2007. The original show was nominated for Best Musical and Best Director Tony Awards but did not manage to win either in 1976.