/Mississippi playwright’s ‘Boys in the Band’ marches triumphantly to Broadway

Mississippi playwright’s ‘Boys in the Band’ marches triumphantly to Broadway

A star cast, including Star Trek reboot’s Zachary Quinto and Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory, will bring the 50th anniversary Broadway revival to the Booth Theatre in New York. The limited engagement of the production was held April 30-Aug. 11. It has been covered in every major publication, from People magazine to The New York Times Style Magazine. How many years have passed since the 50th anniversary of the production? Crowley, a Mississippian playwright, doesn’t think so. He left Mississippi in his youth to pursue showbiz ambitions. Crowley says, “Time is funny.” Crowley says that it seemed like everything would never happen when you were a child. It’s almost like you get breakfast every 10 minutes as an adult. A group of gay men meet in New York City to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Over the course of the evening, and several rounds of cocktails, barbs become more savage, friendships are strained, and emotional truths emerge. The Boys in the Band is a wickedly tart mix of drama and comedy with a human touch. It was the first full-length gay play that reached a cross-cultural audience. Crowley’s Broadway debut Crowley anticipates opening nights. This is Crowley’s first Broadway production. He says that opening nights are “the worst thing any theater employee can endure.” It’s so demanding in every way.” He does recall a few details about the 1968 opening night of The Boys in the Band. “I felt like something that had been thrown out of a burning stable. I was sooo excited and sooo anxious!” The after-party at Joe Allen Restaurant (the red-checkered tablecloth-and-burger antidote to Sardi’s back then), stands out. Crowley’s friends were able to see Allen set up five televisions in the restaurant dining area. We couldn’t raise enough money to put on the show. Joe contributed $800 but the hat was passed and waiters could contribute as low as $10. Each one got a substantial return on their investment. However, that night was a great one. Everyone was excited, even the staff. Crowley states, “It was, well. What we call in business, ‘a Money Review,'” Crowley adds. It was a huge hit with The New York Times, and we knew that we were free. The joint went mad.” The rest is a blur. He laughs, “I’m certain I was drunk as an alcoholic by the time we poured it out of there, around 4 or 5 in morning.” Crowley’s Mississippi memories include Vicksburg where he was born and raised. Since the 1999 death of Marian Crowley Alvarado his aunt, Crowley has not been back to Mississippi. He said that he had a difficult relationship with his father and mother. His surrogate family was Bobby Alvarado and Bobby Alvarados. The enormous Sicilian-American Canizaro clan, which he described as “like a very wonderful and reassuring blanket”, and, by extension, the Signa family behind Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, is also his surrogate family. “I ate at Canizaros’ house more often than at my home.” He says that the Canizaros’ house was full of great Italian food. Angela, the youngest of their three daughters, was still in Vicksburg. Crowley and Bobby Alvarado, Crowley’s cousin, were only 19 months apart. Alvarado recalls a childhood episode and says that Bart always wanted to be a theatrical actor. “My father had a camera for movies, and I was his first victim. Crowley’s grandmother was a “super seamstress” who made him a movie about Roman times. Crowley is a good source of humor and details. “I don’t know if the script was ever written by me. It was going to be a one-person movie! … I had visions about using Neoclassic monuments in the (Vicksburg), National Military Park,” such the Illinois Memorial. Crowley, a speech- and drama major at Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., met Elia Kazan, director, during the 1955 filming of Baby Doll in Benoit. Crowley says that he wanted to leave college to go to work for Kazan — he was just his idol.” Crowley had seen Kazan’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway in 1955. Crowley followed his wise advice and went to New York. He actually met Kazan in New York City on the street late at night on his way back. “I approached him and said, ‘Mr. Kazan? He looked at me and said, “Mr. Crowley was introduced to Natalie Wood through the film, and this marked the beginning of my career. The Boys in the Band was born from a series of triggers. Wood was a rising star, with West Side Story following Splendor In the Grass. Crowley was her assistant and accompanied her to Los Angeles. She promised to get him an agent. Crowley got an agent, and he wrote a screenplay about Wood for 20th Century Fox. However, Darryl Zanuck, the studio head, decided to cancel it. “That was only one defeat. He says that he suffered a few more defeats after that. “Then William Morris dropped me because he was giving me a lot of nibbles but nothing was working out.” he adds. He was so depressed and low that he had to sublet his apartment for quick income. “All of this anger was stored up in me. He says that it was partly due to my career and myself, but also the social attitudes of others around me and the laws of today. Crowley didn’t intend to become an activist, but it was a breakthrough play in portraying gay life. Crowley said, “That was not my intention to change any laws or increase tolerance. I was angry at the injustice and wanted to make it all known. They were only a small part of the larger world. If I had an agenda, it was not hidden and it wasn’t terribly conscious. “I think the anger, the frustration overtook everything and boiled in its own way.” He says that the Boys in the Band transformed his life. It took him from an obscure, starving artist to a playwright whose work was performed all over the globe. 18 months later, the anger and frustration within the gay community culminated in the Stonewall Riots in New York. This was a pivotal moment in gay liberation movements. Crowley states that it was all part of the zeitgeist at the time. Crowley also notes that his play did not gain much traction in the context of the movement’s goal for acceptance and respect. “That was shattered when the onset of AIDS. “…What started as a personal movement was transformed into a national movement and a civil rights issue. What is the most important message in The Boys in the Band, half a century later?” Crowley states, “Humanity.” “Regardless of whether you’re straight or gay, everyone has something they don’t love about themselves. Some people feel shameful or ashamed about themselves. They may feel isolated, dejected, and abandoned. He says, “It’s all there in the play, and that’s what’s common to humanity.” Then he nudges, “Isn’t it?”_x000D