BWW Reviews: THE BOYS IN THE BAND - You've Come a Long Way, Baby!

Written by Mart Crowley
Directed by Tom Costello
June 16th, 2013 at 2PM

What ever your sexual orientation is, or the color of your skin, or your religious beliefs....the most important thing is to know who you are and to be proud of who you are and to accept who you are. "THE BOYS IN THE BAND" is Gay themed, but it is not just for Gay audiences. It has a lesson for all of us, with a universal message...ACCEPTANCE. And just like, "The Hokey Pokey",..."that's what it's all about!"

BRAVO! ~ to the West Coast Players for breaking the non traditional community theatre fare, by offering theatregoers a welcome change of programming. And it was perfectly timed to open as a preview to the annual St. Petersburg Pride Fest.

In the late 1960's, "THE BOYS IN THE BAND" was groundbreaking. It has now become a "period piece" and a significant history lesson in American Culture. I am delighted to say, that since then, "YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY!"

The OFF-Broadway production opened in 1968 at Theatre Four and ran for over 1000 performances. This is a very long run for any OFF-Broadway show and even longer for something that was not mainstream. A very rare Original Cast recording was released the same year, with all of the dialogue of the play. In 1970, a film adaptation opened. Playwright Mart Crowley, also wrote a sequel, "THE MEN FROM THE BOYS".

Mart Crowley's superbly written play, is full of stereotypical cliches, racial slurs, and politically incorrect humor. It is set in 1968, in a Manhattan duplex on the upper east side. As the play opens, our host Michael, is preparing for a birthday dinner party for his friend Harold. Each time the doorbell rings we meet another colorful party guest, as the comedy/drama unfolds.

Mark Myers as Michael, the recovering Catholic, alcoholic, psychotherapy patient, and party host, flits and sachets across the stage, while preparing for his dinner party. Mr. Myers is very realistic in his acting, charming and sophisticated, and has so many levels, in an outstanding performance. His comedic and dramatic talents are showcased to their heights.

Kudos to stage director, Tom Costello, who stepped into the role of Donald, at the last minute, (to replace ailing, actor, Derek Baxter). As Micheal's out of town close friend, Mr. Costello is at ease on the stage, in an honest portrayal, as the self proclaimed, "under achiever". This is a monumental task serving as both stage director and cast member; and Mr. Costello shined as both.

As the "over the top", fluttering, flamboyant, interior decorator Emory, (or as his close friends call him, (Em-ILY), Zachary Tranter minces and poses and curtsies his way through the party, while helping to prepare dinner. Mr, Tranter is hilarious, delivering one line zingers. In a heartfelt dramatic turn, Mr, Tranter proves to be capable of a more subtle, realistic performance as well.

Bi-sexual, nearly divorced, "straight acting", schoolteacher, Hank, is conservatively played by David Mathias. Mr. Mathias is an excellent actor. His monologue in Act II was stunningly impressive. As Hank's sexually assertive, non-monogamous lover Larry, Leary Babtiste does an admirable job with a challenging supporting role. He manages to say a great deal, without the assistance of dialogue.

Christopher Warren plays Bernard, ( or BernICE), an Afro-American (self-hater), still in love with a "white" boy, who's house his mother worked in as their maid. Mr. Warren was sincere in the role and gave a moving performance.

As the depressed, aging, pot-smoking, birthday boy, Harold, Sam DePriest gives a convincing, laid back, performance. And it is spot on. He never drops out of his semi-consciousness, if he is rolling a joint, contradicting a conversation, or delighting in his birthday gift. Well done.

Handsome, hot and hunky, Drew Smith, plays the male hustler, Cowboy; Emory's birthday gift to Harold. Mr. Smith's character portrayal is wide eyed and "dumb as a post", with a very limited vocabulary. His stares, facial expressions, and gestures provoke laughter at every turn. He sets a perfect example for other actors to "listen" to each other on stage, His performance is priceless.

Handsome, articulate, Brad Brady plays Alan, Micheal's stressed out, "straight", (perhaps curious), uninvited guest. Mr. Brady is perfectly cast in this role. He is naturally uncomfortable in his conversational dialogue, as if hypnotized by the party guests. A strong, multi-faceted performance.

The set design by director Tom Costello was perfectly vintage. Warm lighting design by Mike Arnold and clear Sound design by MAra Martin were right on target. Stage manager Rosalyn Savel, kept the show moving smoothly.

LIVE YOUR LIFE OUT LOUD! ~ Like the Good Witch Glinda sings, "Come OUT, Come OUT, wherever you are..." and see West Coast Players of "THE BOYS IN THE BAND".

Please support Community Theatre and all of the volunteers, that put in endless time and talent, to make the magic happen, simply... "for the LOVE of the theatre".

Go see it!

For mature audiences due to strong language and content.

"THE BOYS IN THE BAND", plays June 7th - June 23rd, 2013

Ticket Prices $16.00 CALL - 727- 437-2363

A special performance will take place the evening of Thursday June 20, with proceeds going to benefit St. Pete Pride. Tickets for this event are $30.

The theatre is located at 21905 U.S. 19 North, Clearwater, Florida

The next production at West Coast Players is "Men are Dogs", a comedy by Joe Simonelli, August 9 - 25, 2013

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From This Author Jimmy Ferraro

Jimmy Ferraro is an Award Winning Actor and “Theatre Veteran”. His professional career spans over 40 years in every aspect of show business. Ferraro’s credits (read more...)