TheaterTheater Interview

Exclusive Interview: Tim Hedgepeth, Director of ‘The Boys in the Band’ at the Classic


In honor of Pride Month, the Classic Theatre of San Antonio is proud to present Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking 1968 play, The Boys in the Band.

Director Tim Hedgepeth

The show is set during the course of a single night in a Manhattan apartment where a group of friends gather to celebrate the birthday of one of them. The mood starts out light, but the campy humor soon turns dark as Michael (J. Robert Moore), the host of the party, becomes increasingly inebriated — and mean. He makes the others participate in games they really don’t want to play, and they expose truths about themselves they don’t necessarily want to reveal.

Although some of the dialogue and viewpoints in Boys may strike some as quaint today, it still resonates as an important piece of theater that helped to bring on the beginning of the gay rights movement.

Tim Hedgepeth, who directed the Classic’s current production, talked to ArtScene SA about it.

ArtScene SA: What was the reason behind picking this play for Pride Month?

Tim Hedgepeth: You’d have to ask Jimmy (Moore) about that. I know that he and the theater wanted to do it for reasons other than just for Pride Month. It’s just a really good play, and audiences want to see it again.

And also younger audiences can get an education about what it used to be like.

That’s one of the reasons it interested me so much. I’ve known this play all of my life. I saw the movie version when I was in college. It was very important to me at the time as part of my own coming out and what my life was going to be like. These characters aren’t necessarily role models, but they’re people I’d get to know or already knew.

It means a lot to me for audiences to know what it was like 50 years ago, especially gay kids who are not aware of anything pre-Stonewall; how life wasn’t as promising, especially for younger people these days.

As we approach Pride, which is all about living out loud, there was a time when it was not possible. To see how far we’ve come is important to me.

Tell us about the cast.

Great cast. All local guys. I’ve worked with most of them before. We had a great turnout for the auditions because a lot of people wanted to do the play. As a result, a lot of the best actors in town showed up. The cream of the crop — that’s what I got to pick from.

As we moved further and further into the rehearsal process, they had an understanding of what the show meant back then as well as its importance today. We’ve had a pretty intensive rehearsal process, with everyone bringing their top game to the show. It’s gonna be a tight, great experience for anyone who comes to see it. There’s not a weak link in the bunch.

Trevor Chauvin-DeCaro is back from New York. He lives there now, but he came back to audition, and of course we cast him because he’s perfect for the role he’s playing. I first met Trevor when he did The History Boys for me — gosh! — fourteen years ago. So we’re kind of coming full-circle.

Jimmy Moore’s playing the lead, Michael, and he’s the catalyst for most of the things that happen in the play. His reactions to things at this party are so unexpected. Jimmy has every other line in the play. He never leaves the stage. It’s just a killer role, and he’s spectacular in it.

As we go into Pride Month, what do you think the environment is like these days?

A lot more promising, a lot more prideful — if I can use that term. I think with each Pride Month, we find a reason to be more celebratory. By the same token, and this is just me speaking, the farther we get away from Stonewall we forget how grateful we should be.

The Boys in the Band opened just before the Stonewall riots and, of course, before AIDS. It’s set in a time when gay lib is right around the corner. What you don’t know is that AIDS is also a decade away. There’s a lot in our history from just the twentieth century alone that should always be remembered. Celebrating is great and is what we should be doing every June, but we should also remember those who came before this, who actually made it happen for those of us who are here today.

It’s come a long way since gay characters were depicted as self-loathing psychopaths.

It’s worth looking back and remembering that this play was written when there was no such thing as Pride Month — nobody even knew what that was. Celebrate the present but be respectful of the times when things weren’t this way.

The Boys in the Band runs June 6 through 23. Showtimes are 7:30 on Thursdays and Fridays and 2:00 p.m. on Sundays. Pride Night is Friday, June 7, and the ASL performance is Saturday, June 15. All shows are at the Classic Theatre of San Antonio at the San Pedro Playhouse, 800 West Ashby Pl., and tickets are available online.

Feature photo: top row — Isidro Medina III (Hank), Rick Sanchez (Larry), J. Robert Moore (Michael); second row — Blake Hamman (Harold), Brian Hodges (Donald), J.R. Oliver (Cowboy); third row — Joshua Cook (Bernard), Trevor Chauvin-DeCaro (Emory), Kevin Cox (Alan). Photo by Bobby Foxx Photography.