Playbill Pride: From Angels in America to Hedwig, Our Top Ten Gay Plays

By Ben Rimalower
27 Jun 2013

3. The Boys in the Band
By Mart Crowley

Mart Crowley's watershed 1968 Off-Broadway The Boys in the Band has gotten some flack over the years for its depiction of a group of a gay men at a Manhattan birthday party. It was a source of great curiosity for straight audiences (or perhaps questioning ones…) to get this fly-on-the-wall experience of a modern gay lifestyle they'd never gotten close to before. Members of the gay community had more complicated reactions to the piece. The characters in The Boys in the Band are a marginalized minority and deal with a lot of self-loathing and bitterness. It's easy to see why that turned people off. I can remember catching the movie version (featuring almost the entire original cast) on TV in my pre-adolescent years and being riveted and horrified.

In recent years, there has been a surge of new appreciation for The Boys in The Band (don't miss Crayton Robey's excellent documentary "Making The Boys"); perhaps our distance from the time of the play and all the strides LGBT people have made toward enjoying an equal place in society, have enabled us to appreciate this extremely well-written and entertaining time capsule on its own terms.

The cast of Transport Group's 2010 revival of The Boys in the Band.
photo by Carol Rosegg