This month, The Boys In the Band makes its returns, for the second time as a film. After premiering on stage in 1968 the project returns in a Ryan Murphy-helmed Netflix production based on acclaimed playwright Mart Crowley's original work.
For the project, which employs the same cast as the 2018 Tony Award-winning revival, Murphy and director Joe Mantello pulled together an all-star lineup of out gay actors, to portray gay characters. Now in a new documentary short, given a first look today by Out, that cast look back at the life of Crowley and the legacy of the stories he wrote.
"I don't know that I knew what the hell I was doing to tell you the truth," Crowley says in the documentary titled The Boys in the Band: Something Personal. "I knew I was writing a play about gay life."
Release prior to Stonewall, The Boys In the Band was groundbreaking. It was a play about an ensemble cast of gay men and their lives. For the majority of the plot, they are trapped at a birthday party by a pricky host Michael, played by Jim Parsons. Over the course of their chatter and catching up (and a few drinks) their stories and relationships (past and present) unfold. The result is a complex and nuanced portrayal of gay men, something that wouldn't have been truly seen at the time.
"The play itself was really revelatory and unprecedented, nobody had ever seen anything like it at the time," Zachary Quinto, who plays Harold, says in the documentary. At the time, not only was being gay socially unacceptable but in many cases, it was illegal.
"He is the first person to take up the challenge to write about gay men's lives," Mantello says. "In a way that was completely commercial."
"What I think is wonderful about this piece is that there's so many different well-drawn characters," Matt Bomer, who played Donald, says. And its true: the play depicts a spectrum of gay men sparking conversations 50 years ago that are still happening today. That this could have been done then, and then reimagined now with such a cast is a feat in and of itself.
"It's been so long and we have come so far that if things are better today — and I hope that's true worldwide — it's because of things like this, and moments like this," Parsons says.
The Boys in the Band and The Boys in The Band: Something Personal is available globally September 30 on on Netflix