Non-Binary Actor Blake Appelqvist on Starring in the Musical Bonnie & Clyde
Bonnie and Clyde - Image: Grant Leslie Photography
Blake Appelqvist, one of the stars of the musical Bonnie & Clyde, currently playing at the revered Hayes Theatre, had a flying chat with Star Observer. We quickly got down to business when Appelqvist replied to a question asked about any possible differences in how they, as a non-binary actor, approach the role of a storied, married, heterosexual man from America’s past compared to other roles they’ve tackled, such as Oaken in Frozen or an Angel in Kinky Boots.
Appelqvist’s answer provided a lightbulb moment and gently pointed out the misguided notion my assumption, replying “I would say that there’s not a lot of difference, with me approaching this role with the same sort of fearlessness and creativity that I would with any other role but I guess it is interesting playing a role that is set in a time and set with… [really thinking about the answer], he was a real person, he had real family and relationships and things like that as opposed to creating my own.”
“So it is a little bit of a freedom to be non-binary and playing a role that is not necessarily specified as whether or not he’s non-binary or if he’s binary presenting but I think it’s good and I feel like there should be more non-binary and gender non-conforming people playing cis-presenting roles. I think it’s a great freedom that I’ve had to work through with my own identity and yeah, I hope that there’s more opportunities for non-binary people to play roles like this and begin to explore the spectrum of gender within them, as cis-presenting or cis-passing characters.”
Appelqvist was at pains to clarify that point, adding, “I feel like because I’m married and I know that I present and pass quite masc and that there’s a great privilege with that, with like existing in queer spaces and telling queer stories but I feel like if I didn’t have outlets to claim space and self identify, I feel like the nuance of my identity would also be lost or not specified if there was a story written about me. So I guess it’s just granting grace to characters where there’s not that specificity or even just telling the story through my lens is it’s own thing as well.”