More than a year before the Stonewall riots changed the face of gay activism in the U.S., Mart Crowley put homosexuality center stage in 1968’s The Boys in the Band, his closet-smashing group portrait of nine New York men desperate for love but rotten with self-hatred. Bitchy and bold, the play is set at a birthday party gone awry—one of the gifts is a $20 hustler dressed as a cowboy—and it was an immediate hit, with an Off Broadway run that lasted for more than 1,000 performances. The Boys in the Band’s depiction of gay life was controversial at the time, and gay activists picketed the 1970 film version, but the play has since achieved the status of a classic period piece. Now it finally makes its Broadway debut in a 50th-anniversary production that features a starry cast of openly gay actors, directed by Joe Mantello (Wicked). Here’s our guide to the cast list of what promises to be one hell of a party.
Jim Parsons as Michael
The role: The host of the party and the play’s central figure, a self-loathing, campy alcoholic who spreads misery to his company
Quotable line: “Who was it that always used to say, ‘You show me a happy homosexual and I’ll show you a gay corpse’?”
The match: The four-time Emmy winner and Big Bang Theory vet can lay on the charm, which should help audiences connect with his thorny character.
Matt Bomer as Donald
The role: Michael’s best friend, erstwhile love interest and shoulder to cry on when things go south
Quotable line: “Thanks to the silver screen, your neurosis has got style.”
The match: The slyness of his performance in USA’s White Collar and the dramatic muscle he flexed in HBO’s The Normal Heart could help make Donald more than just a handsome sidekick.
Zachary Quinto as Harold
The role: The birthday boy, Michael’s frenemy and nemesis—and a self-described “ugly, pockmarked Jew fairy” with a sharp, sardonic wit
Quotable line: “Beware the hostile fag. When he’s sober, he’s dangerous. When he drinks, he’s lethal.”
The match: Quinto’s turns as a serial killer in Heroes and Spock in the Star Trek reboot have a cold intelligence that is well suited to Harold’s icy quips.
Andrew Rannells as Larry
The role: Party guest, in a long-term relationship but unwilling to commit to sexual monogamy despite his boyfriend’s jealousy
Quotable line: “I’m old-fashioned—I like ’em all, but I like ’em one at a time!”
The match: The insouciantly slutty vibe that Rannells brought to his portrayal of Elijah on HBO’s Girls makes him a prime suspect to steal scenes in this play.
Tuc Watkins as Hank
The role: Conventionally masculine schoolteacher who left his wife and children to move in with Larry
Quotable line: “Not all of us spend their childhood in a movie house, Michael. Some of us played baseball.”
The match: Watkins's long history on soaps (including General Hospital, One Life to Live and Desperate Housewives) should make him feel at home among the drama queens.
Robin de Jesús as Emory
The role: Defiantly swishy and sassy guest, an interior decorator and bathhouse habitué who camps it up constantly with everyone
Quotable line: “How'd you like to kiss my ass—that's got two or more essessss in it.”
The match: Those who saw this hilarious two-time Tony nominee as the swishy maid, Jacob, in the 2010 revival of La Cage Aux Folles (or as a nellie teen in the movie Camp) know he's got the goods.
Michael Benjamin Washington as Bernard
The role: The only black guest at the party, close friend and confidant of Emory's
Quotable line: “You still have that act with a donkey in Tijuana?”
The match: Familiar from roles on 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Washington played Jacob in the 2005 revival of La Cage, so he and De Jesús should have plenty to bond about.
Brian Hutchison as Alan
The role: Michael's straight former college roommate, visiting New York City, who calls unexpectedly after an emotional falling-out with his wife
Quotable line: “I couldn’t care less what people do—as long as they don’t do it in public—or try to force their ways on the whole damned world.”
The match: Stage regular Hutchison, who played the gay straight man to a quippy Tallulah Bankhead in 2010's Looped, has a sensitivity that could balance out Alan's sometimes hostile demeanor.
Charlie Carver as Cowboy
The role: Beautiful, none-too-bright young male prostitute hired by Emory as a birthday gift for Harold
Quotable line: “I'm not a steal. I cost twenty dollars.”
The match: One of Hollywood's few openly LGBT heartthrobs, Carver is an impressive physical specimen, as those who saw him on MTV's Teen Wolf can attest.
The Boys in the Band runs April 30 through August 11 at the Booth Theatre. Buy tickets here.
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