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A Nomad’s Notes: A bite out of the Big Apple with ‘the Boys’

On Friday, May 25, I woke up for the day at 6:14 (yes, 14, not 15) a.m. in Shallotte.

On Saturday, May 26, I went to bed at 3 a.m. in a hotel in New York City.

A lot happened between those hours. But in April I wasn’t sure it would happen at all.

I’d learned some of my favorite actors were going to be in a Broadway production called “The Boys in the Band,” a revival of a 1968 play written by Mart Crowley in which a group of gay friends get together for a birthday party and all hell breaks loose. It’s petty, it’s positively fascinating, it’s perfect.

But in late April I was beginning to feel sadness about not being able to go. As a journalist, money isn’t exactly rolling in as much as I wish it was so a $300 flight up there, plus $200 for a theatre ticket (worth it) wouldn’t be feasible.

I sort of romanced the idea on the phone with my mom before coming down to brass tacks and telling her what I wanted to do. I’d even cleaned up more than 60 books to try and sell for extra cash to get me what I needed to get to Broadway.

My mom, who’s always been supportive of my dreams in the past even if she thought they were silly, helped me do some research over the phone. We started out by looking at airline tickets, and immediately learned a flight up to New York City straight from Myrtle Beach, S.C., could be as cheap as $100.

I felt a little bit of hope creeping in. Then I learned that the show was running all the way through mid-August, giving me time to scrounge up the money to go. But those cheap airline prices were really what cemented the idea for me that it could work.

So within a 48-hour period I had gone from sadness at not knowing if I could go, to buying tickets, taking a flight and eventually booking a hotel room.

I told the people I met up with when I got to New York and I’ll say it again here: If I didn’t have my mom, I wouldn’t be able to do the amazing things I’ve done. She’s the most selfless woman I’ve ever met. I’ll never be able to pay her back for what she’s done. I bought the show ticket, Mom and I worked out Friday, May 25 as the best day for me to go, and I’m telling you in life it is truly as if some things were orchestrated by some unknown force. Not only did I end up picking the same time as one of my friends from Ohio without realizing it, but I ended up sitting right in front of her and her group and exactly five rows behind my favorite actor’s boyfriend.

Even though the play is 50 years old, it’s still relevant to today in its discussion of homophobia, biphobia and gender roles, which seems to keep regressing the longer this current administration holds power. I see so much of Michael, the gay main character who hates what he is and still grapples with his religious views, in so many people I went to high school with. I see the biphobic attitudes in my relatives. I see the racism tackled in the play rearing its ugly head more publicly in displays like the fatal one in Charlottesville, Va. These are issues that never really go away, although we have come a long way.

“The Boys in the Band” came out (pun intended) at a time when marriage equality wasn’t even on the table, and now we’re three years into the landmark decision making it legal — and during Pride Month, no less. It came about at a time when blatantly gay themes in cinema were part of a niche indie genre, and now we are slowly but surely getting LGBT characters in more mainstream media. The play 50 years ago was performed off Broadway; here it is five decades later on Broadway and being discussed globally by mainstream media to positive reviews.

The play in itself is hilarious and tense at times — so much that you want to look away, like you’ve just invaded a person’s space as they work through their own turmoil. There are mysteries and layers to the work that I still want to talk about with someone, since there’s no Sparknotes.

A highlight of the performance was knowing I was in the same room having the same experience with actors I admire so much. But when I come away with my thoughts, I know my favorite thing about the entire trip was knowing that, as a LGBT woman, I was in that theatre laughing and gasping along with others in that same family. I was 500 miles from my front doorstep, but at the Booth Theatre I felt right at home.

Lindsay Kriz is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or lkriz@brunswickbeacon.com.