At Last, the Broadway Premiere of this 1968 Classic Play
On April 30, 2018, The Boys in the Band began previews at the Booth Theatre, ahead of its opening night scheduled for May 31, 2018. The play is currently scheduled for a limited engagement to run until August 11, 2018. Due to its late opening date, the play will not be eligible for this year’s Tony Awards, but will need to wait until 2019 to see if it will receive any awards recognition. Mart Crowley’s play The Boys in the Band first premiered Off-Broadway in 1968, and two years later it was adapted into a successful feature film of the same name, which is considered one of the first major films in the canon of American queer cinema. Despite this wide renown, the play had never found its way to Broadway, until now. As such, this is also the Broadway debut for the playwright, Mart Crowley, who is now in his early 80s. The story of The Boys in the Band revolves around a group of gay men in New York City in the late 1960s, who gather for a friend’s birthday party, and whose conversation begins to reveal the cracks in their friendship and the heartache underlying their solidarity. This production is directed by Joe Mantello, who counts among his talents a specialty in directing gay-themed work on Broadway, such as Casa Valentina, amongst his versatile repertoire. An actor as well as a director, Mantello also starred in another recent gay ensemble piece on Broadway, the 2011 production of The Normal Heart, and he also played Louis Ironson in the 1993 production of the gay fantasia Angels in America.
This production of The Boys in the Band stars an excellent cast of beloved performers of stage and screen, all of whom are openly gay in real life. This is groundbreaking casting, made all the more meaningful by the fact that this revival marks the 50 year anniversary of the show’s Off-Broadway premiere. The cast includes Jim Parsons (An Act of God, Harvey, The Normal Heart), Zachary Quinto (The Glass Menagerie), Matt Bomer (“The Normal Heart” on HBO), Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon, Falsettos, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, “Girls”), Charlie Carver (“Desperate Housewives,” “The Leftovers”), Robin De Jesús (Rent, La Cage aux Folles), Brian Hutchison (Man and Boy, Looped), Michael Benjamin Washington (La Cage aux Folles, Mamma Mia!), and Tuc Watkins (“Desperate Housewives”). This production is produced by David Stone, Scott Rudin, Patrick Catullo, Aaron Glick and Ryan Murphy. While Stone and Rudin are veteran Broadway producers, Murphy is better known for his work in television. As such, several of the cast members have experience performing in one of Murphy’s television endeavors, including Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, and Matt Bomer. The scenic and costume design is by David Zinn, the lighting design is by Hugh Vanstone, and the sound design is by Leon Rothenberg. This play was trailblazing when it was first written, and it still holds weighty relevance for the present generation, made all the more resonant by the choice to cast only gay performers. With such a high caliber of beloved actors, the play is one not to miss this summer season.
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