Ryan Murphy Marshals Star Cast for 'Boys in the Band' Broadway Revival
Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer and Andrew Rannells will head the ensemble of Mart Crowley's landmark 1968 comedy-drama about a birthday party that turns sour.
Ryan Murphy will team with Wicked producer David Stone to bring a 50th-anniversary revival of The Boys in the Band to Broadway, assembling a deluxe cast that significantly includes some of the most prominent out-and-proud gay actors in Hollywood.
Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer and Andrew Rannells will head the ensemble in a production directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello.
First produced in 1968, Crowley's biting comedy drama is a groundbreaking work among pre-Stonewall depictions of LGBTQ characters, chronicling the fun and frictions that emerge when a group of gay male friends gather for a boozy birthday party in New York City. The play is loved and loathed to an equal extent, with some calling it a perpetuation of negative bitchy stereotypes and others hailing it as a breakthrough in its intimate exploration of the attitudes and behavior of gay men at a time when cultural representation was minimal.
"The significance of The Boys in the Band cannot be underestimated," Murphy said Wednesday in a statement. "Mart Crowley made history by giving voice to gay men onstage, in this uncompromising, blisteringly honest, and wickedly funny play. 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."
Added Stone: "Everything has changed. And nothing has changed."
Also featured in the cast will be Robin de Jesus, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington and Tuc Watkins. The role of "Cowboy," a hunky hustler presented by one of the guests as a gift to birthday boy Harold (played by Quinto), remains to be cast.
The play will run in a limited 15-week engagement at Broadway's Booth Theatre, beginning performances April 30. An official opening night has yet to be set. However, given that the first preview comes after the April 26 eligibility cutoff for this season's Tony Awards, the revival will not be a contender until 2019.
Crowley's landmark work was originally scheduled to play just five performances in a tiny off-Broadway venue in 1968, but became an overnight sensation, drawing celebrities in the audience and running for more than 1,000 performances. A movie adaptation directed by William Friedkin and featuring the original stage cast was released in 1970; both loved and reviled, it remains a milestone in queer cinema. A 2011 documentary called Making the Boys examined the cultural footprint of the play and movie.
Murphy served as an associate producer with Roundabout Theatre Company on the 2016 Broadway revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night, which won a Tony for his American Horror Story and Feud star Jessica Lange. The Boys in the Band revival will mark the prolific TV creator's first Broadway project as a lead producer.
The four biggest names in the ensemble all are alumni of Murphy's television productions: Parsons and Bomer both appeared in The Normal Heart; Quinto and Bomer had roles in different seasons of American Horror Story; and Rannells starred in The New Normal. Bomer also is slated to make his directing debut next year on an episode of Murphy's The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.