Joe Mantello had previously helmed a Tony Award-winning play using the same source material – and with the same cast – but says that changing medium afforded him a “bigger canvas.”
“We were able to flesh out certain aspects of the characters’ lives that it would be impossible to do on stage,” he explained.
“The stage version takes place in real time in one setting but obviously with the film you can show these characters out in the world.
“I think also what it provided was an intimacy that went beyond just [playwright] Mart’s crackling dialogue but that there were moments that you could capture between the characters, moments of tenderness, a touch, a look that helped to tell the story in another way that ran parallel to the dialogue.”
The Boys in the Band – about a group of gay friends whose reunion is thrown into disarray by an unexpected addition – debuted as an off-Broadway play back in 1968 before being adapted for the big screen by The Exorcist director William Friedkin.
And that first film version served as a huge inspiration for Mantello, both in terms of staging his 2018 Broadway revival and when it came to the new film.
“The Friedkin film was very influential when we were putting together the stage revival because I wanted to do an edited version of the play, which was originally two acts,” he said.
“We did it in one act and so I was interested to see the cuts that Mart had made for the film which obviously had to be scaled way back and so that was very helpful in that sense.”
He continued: “And again when we were starting to shoot we worked from Mart’s original screenplay that that was a template that we were shooting from. And then we made changes and added and edited different, but it’s interesting because it’s two groups of people approaching the very same material using a version of the same screenplay more or less.
“And I like to think that the versions are in conversation with one another, that you can look at 50 years and the perspective of 50 years and see how each group approached it.”
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) and and Matt Bomer (Doom Patrol) are among the cast of Netflix’s The Boys in the Band.
The Boys in the Band is available to stream on Netflix from Wednesday 30th October 2020. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide