Where the Boys Are: DF and CK on Ryan Murphy’s The Boys in the Band (for Parterre Box)

David Fox: Cameron, given the 32-year difference in our ages, I don’t get to say this often about a work of modern drama, but—The Boys in the Band was before both our times. The play, an off-Broadway sensation, premiered in 1968, when I was only 12. I don’t think I was aware of it at all. The movie came along in 1970, and for me, those two years were significant. By then, I was beginning to think of myself in more adult—which is to say, more sexual—terms. I clearly remember the poster: side by side photographs of Leonard Frey as Harold and the beauteous Robert La Tourneaux as Cowboy, over a caption that read: “Today is Harold’s birthday. This is his present.” I doubt I really understood what that meant, but somehow it grabbed me in a visceral way. A year or two later, I saw the movie and also acquired the excellent audio recording, both of which preserve the superb original cast. I was a full-fledged groupie… and in many ways, I still am. Yes, BITB is a period piece—but it was revelatory in its moment, and certainly (you should forgive the expression), seminal in my own life. And I think it’s still powerful and resonant today.

Cameron Kelsall: I knew The Boys in the Band as a title long before I had much sense of it as a play. By the time I came of age, the canon of queer storytelling had expanded significantly—particularly in the theater, with Angels in America, Falsettos and The Normal Heart at the forefront—and BITB was regarded mostly as a quaint relic of pre-AIDS life for gay men in New York City. That reading certainly sells the work short, even without the sudden jump in its popularity, stemming from a Tony-winning Broadway revival that has now been adapted into a Netflix movie. Mart Crowley’s script is witty, bitchy and campy, sure, but it also homes in profoundly on aspects of the gay male experience that remain painfully true today…

Click here to read the full post on Parterre Box.

Categories: Criticism, Movies, PARTERRE BOX, Theater

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