In the before times, I was definitely one of those people who looked at what was going on in New York, on the Big White Way of Broadway and wished I could just head on down to the theatre that night to catch Wicked, or Bettlejuice or Book Of Mormon – yes, I love me some musicals!
But I did also longingly gaze upon some of the ‘straight plays’ that popped up, that is, stories told on stage without the aid of musical interludes to further the narrative – especially those that happened to star familiar faces from television and movies.
The Boys In The Band, which ran on Broadway in 2018, featured actors from a diverse range of screen genres, from The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons to Star Trek’s Spock (Zachary Quinto) to Charlie Carver from Desperate Housewives and Ratched.
When it first opened on Broadway in the late 60s, it was a groundbreaking onstage portrayal of how gay men lived and related to each other and created families for themselves at a time when perhaps their own families were not so embracing.
The 2018 Broadway revival was cast entirely with openly gay actors and that same cast all took on their same roles for the movie version, both of which were produced by Ryan Murphy and directed by Joe Mantello.
The emotional rollercoaster starts off friendly enough, with a shower scene featuring Matt Bomer and his full bush of pubic hair, ample butt shots and even a glimpse of peen – “uncircumcised” my eagle eyed house mate noted with glee!
Even though on the face of it they all seem like people who should definitely not be friends, when you remember the pressure that these men must have been under at those times, when an accidentally left open front door of an apartment can lead to disapproving tsk tsk’s from the neighbours when they see a group of flamboyant gay men relaxing and joking around with each other.
The movie did feel like it was shot like a play though and certain camera angles definitely felt like they were framed to give that impression, which I felt was a nice touch – the loft style apartment in which the play is mostly set lends itself to that aesthetic.
Jim Parsons in particular is just so good. I have to say, I am always concerned for actors that take on and succeed in a role like Sheldon Cooper – such an idiosyncratic and acclaimed character (Parsons picked up four Emmy awards for playing Sheldon Cooper) has the ability to make sure the actor doing such a good job playing that role might never work again! But seeing him here as such a bitter, cruel drunk and even more so than his turn as Henry Willson in Murphy’s Netflix production of Hollywood, just confirms that this incredibly versatile actor has a long career of varied roles ahead of him.
Kudos have to go to all the actors in this film though, along with Mantello’s direction which eased some of my disappointment in never getting to see it live – excellent when you consider it cost nothing to see for someone who is still bludging off his parents’ Netflix account!
Four boozy bottles of Gin out of Five.