Melissa Etheridge breaks Broadway

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Melissa Etheridge playing guitar on stage.
Melissa Etheridge: My Window. Photo by Jenny Anderson
Will Loschiavo with Melissa Etheridge
Will Loschiavo with Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge has lived one hell of a life. Between going from playing small lesbian bars to selling out stadiums, winning two Grammys and being nominated for 15, raising four children, surviving breast cancer, the death of her son, establishing a foundation, and becoming an author… Broadway was always in her future.

Melissa Etheridge: My Window acted as a concert, play, and intimate confessional simultaneously. The play was held at Circle in the Square Theatre throughout the fourth quarter of 2023. Regardless of where you were seated, there was not a bad seat in the house. The theatre itself is rather small which made for cozy storytelling.

Melissa entered the play alone with a guitar strapped around her. Through a mix of storytelling and performances, she detailed her life growing up in Kansas, playing local clubs as early as 13 years old, and the realization that she was a lesbian at a time when homosexuality was beyond taboo. Melissa delivered her tales in a non-martyr manner, which is not usually the case with coming-out sagas. Melissa was direct, open, and comedic throughout the first act, no matter how intense the subject matter became.

Melissa discussed her romantic involvement with multiple women in Hollywood, her role at former President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, and detailed her relationship turned marriage to first wife, Julie Cypher, and how they initially got involved when she was still married to Lou Diamond Phillips.

The hits performed were appropriately timed with the stories being told. In the play you discover more about what was going on in Melissa’s personal life at the time, as well as what inspired her to write some of her biggest hits. It added more context to her vast catalog of music.

Melissa Etheridge playing guitar on stage.
Melissa Etheridge: My Window. Photo by Jenny Anderson

The second act was more impassioned. We learn about the bittersweet reality Melissa lived at the height of her fame and fortune. Melissa’s dreams were finally coming true, and her career skyrocketing at the same time her personal life was taking a major hit. We received a taste of the lavish parties during her first marriage, life on the road, and the distance which developed in her marriage the more she achieved musically.

On the flip side, we find Melissa finding love again and expanding her family. She came to terms with the inability to control life no matter how hard you try. Melissa was very self-deprecating in the way she addressed her two failed partnerships.

Melissa discussed how her spirituality and “connection-to-self” improved with the controversial use of mind-altering drugs including marijuana, mescalin, and ayahuasca. This led to the story of the death of her son, Beckett Cypher, to opioid addiction. The vulnerability expressed during this segment brought tears to the eyes of many in the theatre. We learned how holistic medicine helped Melissa, how pharmaceuticals destroyed her son, and ultimately, how she was able to turn tragedy into triumph with the work she is doing at the Etheridge Foundation.

At the end of the day, I walked away with a newfound respect for Melissa Etheridge, her journey, and an increased desire to read her latest memoir, Talking to My Angels, out now. 10/10.