Earlier this year, a new stage production of Mat Crowley’s 1968 gay play The Boys In The Band got a limited run in the West End. It looks like that may have inspired a very starry 50th Anniversary Broadway revival which is being planned for 2018, starring an impressive selection of gay actors.
Matt Bomer (making his Broadway debut), Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Tuc Waitkins Robin de Jesus, Brian Hutchison and Michael Benjamin Washington have been cast in the production, with Joe Mantello directing. TV mega-producer Ryan Murphy is also involved behind-the-scenes.
Crowley’s play broke new ground when it debuted off-Broadway in 1968 for showing the lives of modern gay men in a unfliching way – something many audiences had never seen before. The 1970 film version, directed by William Friedkin, is often considered Hollywood’s first gay film.
The play is set in the New York apartment of Michael, who’s hosting a birthday party for his friend Harold. However, as the alcohol flows, the guests begin to tell a few too many home truths, revealing that underneath the jokes and cameraderie, many of the men are filled with anger and self-loathing.
Many now view it as problematic, due to the fact so many of the characters are seething, bitter, narcissistic, shallow and filled with internalised homophobia. However, Crowley has said that while it may be different now, in the era before Stonewall, that’s what him and his friends were like.
The revival is being lined up for a limited 15-week run at the Booth Theater, with the show starting previews on April 30th and running through to August 12th.
“In 1968, Mart Crowley made theatrical history by giving voice to gay men onstage, in this uncompromising, blisteringly honest, and wickedly funny play,” Ryan Murphy commented. “The play was groundbreaking in its exploration of how gay men treated each other and how they were made to feel about themselves. And while some attitudes have thankfully shifted, it’s important to be reminded of what we have overcome and how much further we still have to go.”