Since opening in October at New York’s The Wild Project in the East Village, musician Jill Sobule’s rock concert musical “F*ck7thGrade” has been garnering attention – so much so that it will be back for an encore limited winter engagement from January 23- February, 11, 2023. Weekdays 7pm, Friday & Saturday 8pm.
As the title suggests, the musical spotlights those formative adolescent years – in all of its awkward glory. With Lisa Peterson directing a book by Liza Birkenmeier and music & lyrics by Sobule, F*ck7thGrade brings us back to the 70s. With a middle school band, the musical tells an autobiographical story about how Sobule survived those middle years to become the first pop music artist to pen the first openly – queer song that landed on the Billboard Top 20.
Yup, Sobule wrote some iconic hits from the 90s including “Supermodel” and the original “I Kissed a Girl.”
In a recent interview with GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos, Sobule mentioned how the musical is set at a very pivotal time in all of our lives: middle school. It is a time that everyone could relate.
“I think it’s when peers become more important,” Sobule said about middle school. “Hormonally we’re changing.. and our bodies have grown more than our brains… and kids are f*cking mean.”
The concert musical sets the scene at a time when it was not the ideal time to be queer. As Sobule points out, when she was in the 7th grade, there were no mainstream LGBTQ clubs or gay-straight alliances. Imagine adding that on top of a time in your life that is already a struggle.
The musical may be autobiographical, but for Sobule, it’s important that other people see themselves in her story. She wants it to be a musical where people aren’t necessarily coming just for her life story. “People aren’t coming to see my life, they’re coming to see their life too.”
“It’s pretty universal,” explained Sobule. “There’s one part of the show I [ask the audience]: ‘How many people wanted to die when they were in 7th grade?’ and the hands shoot up.”
As for when Sobule remembers seeing herself represented in film or TV, she remembers seeing Tim Curry The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
“I remember going to it and it blew my mind,” she said. “[I thought] ‘There’s a place for me that I’ll be able to go to some time… it might not be Transylvania, but there’s place for weirdos’.”
She said that there weren’t many role models for her growing up but when David Bowie, Lou Reed, Mick Jagger and more musicians began to be more androgynous presenting, she saw things started to open up. This led to the ‘90s where more men started to be openly queer, but it wasn’t until Melissa Etheridge started to gain popularity that queer woman started to come out.
Sobule appreciates how things are a lot different now than they were when she was coming up.
“What a great time to be a queer artist… what a great time you can do whatever you want,” she said, naming artists like Frank Ocean and Lil Nas X who are breaking ground for the LGBTQ community in different genres.
After F*ck7thGrade ends it run, Sobule has another musical waiting in the wings with a comedic, young adult, queer adaptation of The Scarlet Letter. “I went through a stage of [reading] queer YA books and some of them are so good — just think if I had that when I was a kid. That would have been amazing.”
Tickets to are available at TheWildProject.org.