Based on Mart Crowley’s seminal 1968 stage play, “The Boys in the Band” follows a group of gay friends living in New York back then. Michael (played by Jim Parsons) is hosting a birthday party for his pal Harold (Zachary Quinto) at a swanky Manhattan apartment.
The festivities take a dramatic turn with the arrival of Michael’s former flame Donald (Matt Bomer), who has fled New York in hopes of spurning the homosexual “lifestyle,” and Michael’s straight-laced college roommate, Alan (Brian Hutchison). As the night progresses, each of the men confronts personal demons pertaining to their sexuality and identity.
Produced by Ryan Murphy, Netflix’s “The Boys in the Band” reassembles the full cast of the 2018 Broadway production, also including Robin de Jesús, Andrew Rannells and Tuc Watkins. The film is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello.
At the time of its stage premiere over 50 years ago, “The Boys in the Band” was a groundbreaking snapshot of queer life as it existed before the 1969 Stonewall uprising, which is considered the symbolic start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. The original off-Broadway production ran for just over 1,000 performances and drew the likes of Marlene Dietrich and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the audience.
Though the story takes place decades before same-sex marriage and other social advances, Quinto has said its message still resonates given the Trump administration’s anti-LGBTQ platform.
“There’s been this explosion of backward and harmful thinking and political ideology that swept our country,” the actor said in a 2018 video. “We’re responsible for standing up and being acknowledged and celebrating ourselves and celebrating our community in a way that shows these people who are trying to undo the progress we’ve made that we’re not going anywhere.”
Speaking to Time Out New York that same year, he added, “I don’t think it’s any easier to love ourselves today versus 50 years ago. If anything, it’s harder, with the insidiousness of social media reflecting to us what we don’t have, what we want.”
“The Boys in the Band” hits Netflix on Sept. 30.