Riccarton Players first production in 2021, The Boys in the Band is a landmark play about nine gay men who’ve gathered in a New York City apartment for a friend’s birthday party and suddenly see the cracks of their friendship. Filled with romantic yearning, witty banter, and, for some, self-hatred—was considered revolutionary for its time.
Originally scheduled to run for five performances at a small Off-Broadway venue in 1968, the play became an overnight sensation, and -- after transferring to a bigger theater -- ran for over 1,000 performances. The show went on to have an acclaimed run in London and was adapted into a film by William Friedkin in 1970. More recently, was revived recently on Broadway for its 50th anniversary in 2018, and is currently in pre-production for a Netflix special feature.
Though The Boys in the Band is what he's known for, Crowley, who has sadly passed this year, never thought the play would be considered an integral part of gay cultural history. “Everybody that knew me, my friends, they all thought I was going around the bend a bit when I'd tell them what I was working on," he recalled of writing it. "I just kept going. I had faith in something, I don't know what it was—myself, I hope. I finally typed ‘The End’ and put it on my arm and came to New York with it.”
The significance of The Boys in the Band cannot be underestimated. Mart Crowley made theatrical history by giving voice to gay men onstage, in this uncompromising, blisteringly honest, and wickedly funny play."
The play is 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 has been overcome and how much further there is still have to go.
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