Theatre Lovers James Robert Adams and Jonathan Judson Boyles Design PlaybillVIP for Their Wedding
By Carey Purcell
Many newlyweds feel like celebrities on their wedding day. The ceremony and celebration make lovebirds the center of attention and subject of countless photographs. But James Robert Adams and Jonathan Judson Boyles are already being mistaken for celebrities by complete strangers.
Adams and Boyes, who will marry Aug. 31 in Brooklyn, designed a PlaybillVIP for their wedding. The booklet, which has been sent to the guests of the grooms, features a photo of the couple on the cover, and when Adams was dining with a friend in a restaurant and the friend left the Playbill on the table, diners nearby thought it was a Playbill for a Broadway show.
"They got really interested because they assumed it was a produced Playbill and that I was the star in this show they hadn't heard of," Adams said.
PlaybillVIP launched in January 2013, offering schools, colleges, amateur and community productions the opportunity to create Playbills for their own productions and events. The Virtual Internet Playbill (PlaybillVIP.com) is the new online tool that allows users to create the authentic Playbill; for a charitable donation, which will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Actors Fund and UNICEF, the PlaybillVIP can also be printed for distribution to audiences in the theatre.
While Adams and Boyles' PlaybillVIP is not of a musical playing on the Great White Way, it does feature the stars of the two men's wedding. The book lists the events preceding the wedding as well as the day of and after, biographies of Adams and Boyles and biographies of everyone helping to officiate the ceremony — of which there are 26, including the best man, their dog, Buzz St. Valentine Adams-Boyles.
"The way we look at it, our group is marrying us," Boyles said. "We have something like 26 different roles — 26 individuals who are going to have a role in the wedding."
The idea of a group marrying the men and the wedding's staging, which will feature everyone in a circle around Adams and Boyles, was inspired by a Quaker tradition related to the two by a friend.
"It's not a priest or pastor that does the marrying; it's actually the entire congregation," Adams said. "I thought that was a really neat idea. It was a way of not subscribing to any particular religious organization, but still having the powerfulness of our friends uniting us with their spirit. I think [it also] underscores how important they are to us. Our relationships with our friends are really important, and it's our relationships with other people that support our relationships with each other."
"We have such a close connection with our friends and family, and what made marriage interesting to me was having it celebrated and witnessed by all these friends, having them as a group perform the marriage," Boyles added.
Adams and Boyles first met in Virginia, where they both attended college. After Boyles graduated, the two stayed in touch through phone calls, e-mails, mixed tapes and visits. They almost moved to Atlanta, going as far as reading over the lease for an apartment together, until Adams admitted he actually wanted to move to New York instead — due, in part, to his love of theatre.
"When my sister looked at the Playbill, she thought it's exactly us, because whenever she thinks about Broadway, she thinks about James," Boyles said.
Adams' thesis in college was on Broadway theatre, and, recounting the political aspects of works like Show Boat and West Side Story, he said, "It's really neat that we're on the edge with radical social change as well, with gay couples getting married."
Adams and Boyles have been together for 17 years, and Boyles said he was originally opposed to the idea of getting married.
"I had been a proponent of, 'We don't need to get married. We're fine together and what we have is great,' and I didn't necessarily want to be seen as an assimilationist of heterosexual marriage," he said. "Then something about it all of a sudden seemed important. I think it's important for ourselves and important politically for there to be people that are married."
The two, who live near the Brooklyn Academy of Music, are frequent theatregoers. (Adams has more than 170 Playbills in his collection.) The two have been fans of Rent for years and frequently entered the lottery to win front-row tickets to the musical. And, while the Spotify account for their apartment contains numerous songs from the Jonathan Larson musical, they do not have any showtunes set in their wedding playlist — yet.
Boyles, who will be DJing the reception, said he has not ruled out the possibility of adding some songs from cast recordings. When asked who they would like to perform at their wedding ceremony, Adams immediately chose Patti LuPone, and Boyles selected Stew.
Adams and Boyles' Playbill has been a hit, receiving rave reviews from their family and friends for its sentimental value as well as its practical use.
"I've had multiple friends say that looking at it made them teary," Boyles said. "And when my sister looked at it, she would start to read something and think, 'I don't know who that person is.' Then she'd read some more and say, 'Oh, I do know who that is!'"
"The whole process was really hard work, but it was fun," Adams added. "We're really happy with the product. The process of putting it together made us realize there are all of these stories to be told."
"Initially, the way we thought about this was it was going to be an invitation or a program for the event," Boyles said. "I think it's turned into more a collector's piece from the wedding, sort of the same way you have going to see a piece of theatre. This will always be around to remind us and our friends what it was all about, the same way a Playbill does that. You can go back and look at it years after seeing a show."
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