Mart Crowley's groundbreaking play The Boys in the Band
opened in 1968 to rave reviews and ravenous audiences. It took gay characters and put them at the forefront of the narrative in a media environment that otherwise typically ignored, punished or vilified them. This documentary tells the behind-the-scenes story of the play (and its subsequent film version) while also illuminating its position in the wider landscape of the gay rights movement. In general, the film's aim is too wide-reaching. It struggles to find a narrative center by confusedly switching focus between the minutiae of Crowley's life story and huge moments in gay history—all propped up by interviews with gay theater luminaries (Edward Albee and Tony Kushner) and small-screen B-listers (Project Runway
winner Christian Siriano and Queer Eye
's Carson Kressley). The legacy of Boys
muddles the point further, having been heralded by the movement at one moment and then lambasted the next for being retrograde and stereotypical. In a different way, the title, Making the Boys
, could hardly be more accurate. For though the narrative recounts the struggles of the LGBTQ community, it's a gay men's chorus of voices, perspectives and historical moments.