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‘The Boys in the Band’ First Look: The Groundbreaking Gay Stage Drama Makes a Splash on Netflix

Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, and Zachary Quinto lead a gay ensemble of New York queens whose relationships unravel over the course of a birthday party.

THE BOYS IN THE BAND (2020)Jim Parsons as Michael and Matt Bomer as Donald.Cr. Scott Everett White/NETFLIX ©2020

“The Boys in the Band”

Scott Everett White / NETFLIX

The latest project to emerge from the $300-million Ryan Murphy factory over at Netflix is “The Boys in the Band,” director Joe Mantello’s adaptation of the groundbreaking 1968 Mart Crowley stage play. Mantello, with Murphy, revived the play on Broadway in 2018 with a Tony-nominated ensemble who are all back for the new film version: Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Zachary Quinto, Robin de Jesús, and Michael Benjamin Washington. Check out first-look photos for “The Boys in the Band” below.

Crowley’s play, a chamber portrait of pre-liberation gay America that plays like “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” for bitchy queens, was first brought to the screen by William Friedkin in 1970. The story unfolds over the course of a birthday party on a hot New York City night in 1968, when gay behavior had to be closeted and coded. The party is being hosted by Michael (Parsons), a decadent guy who spends and drinks too much, in honor of his friend Harold (Quinto), famous for his rapier wit. Other partygoers include Michael’s neurotic ex Donald (Bomer); Larry (Rannells), an artist living with Hank (Watkins), a school teacher who has just left his wife; the demure librarian Bernard (Michael Benjamin Washington); Emory (De Jesús), a wildly flamboyant interior decorator; and a hustler (Charlie Carver), hired to be Harold’s gift for the night. What begins as an evening of drinks and laughs soon spirals out when Michael’s supposedly straight college roommate, Alan (Brian Hutchison), shows up. Cue resentments, secrets, and lies — all culminating in a particularly vicious telephone game — coming to the surface.

Friedkin’s version is a campy, scary hoot. Mantello’s vision earned plenty of praise during its Broadway run, as well as the Tony Award for Best Revival of the Play. It was, in fact, the show’s first appearance on Broadway, as it originally debuted off-Broadway in 1968. When Mart Crowley accepted the Tony in 2019, he movingly said, “I would like to dedicate this award to the original cast of nine brave men who didn’t listen to their agents when they were told that their careers would be finished if they did this play. And they did it, and here I am.”

“The Boys in the Band” releases globally on Netflix September 30.

THE BOYS IN THE BAND (2020)Jim Parsons as Michael, Robin De Jesus as Emory, Michael Benjamin Washington as Bernard and Andrew Rannells as Larry. Cr. Scott Everett White/NETFLIX ©2020

“The Boys in the Band”

Scott Everett White/NETFLIX ©2020

THE BOYS IN THE BAND (2020)Zachary Quinto as Harold, Charlie Carver as Cowboy and Robin De Jesus as Emory. Cr. Scott Everett White/NETFLIX ©2020

“The Boys in the Band”

Scott Everett White/NETFLIX ©2020

THE BOYS IN THE BAND (2020)Back Row: Robin De Jesus, Michael Benjamin Washington, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Carver, Tuc Watkins, Andrew Rannells, Brian Hutchison Front: Joe Mantello, Mart Crowley Cr. Brian Bowen Smith/NETFLIX ©2020

“The Boys in the Band”

Brian Bowen Smith/NETFLIX

THE BOYS IN THE BAND (2020)Jim Parsons as Michael, Brian Hutchison as Alan and Tuc Watkins as Hank. Cr. Scott Everett White/NETFLIX ©2020

“The Boys in the Band”

Scott Everett White/NETFLIX ©2020

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