In the Boom Boom Room

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In the Boom Boom Room
Written by David Rabe
Date premiered November 8, 1973 (1973-11-08)
Place premiered Vivian Beaumont Theater
Original language English
Genre Drama
Setting Nightclub

In the Boom Boom Room is a play by David Rabe. It focuses on a go-go dancer whose difficult relationship with her parents has propelled her into a series of unfortunate affairs with both men and women.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Chrissy is a naive young woman who arrives in 1960s Philadelphia with dreams of achieving stardom as a dancer. Desperation leads her to take a job at a sleazy nightclub called Big Tom's Boom Boom Room. While working there, she explores love and sex with a variety of unsuitable partners of both sexes, forms a friendship with a gay neighbor, and tries to resolve troubling issues in her life, including vague memories of sexual abuse at the hands of her father and a cold-hearted mother who had wanted to abort her.


The play originally was written and performed in two acts at Villanova University in 1972. Rabe was teaching at Villanova and the director, Robert Hedley, was chair of the theatre department.[1]

Prior to its staging at Lincoln Center the following year, Rabe added a scene and several speeches to the first act, expanding it considerably, and as a result it was divided into three acts, to the playwright's dissatisfaction. It was restored to its original two-act structure when it was revived Off-Broadway in 1985 and published by Grove Press in 1994.[2]


The play opened on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theater on November 8, 1973 and closed on December 9, 1973 after 37 performances and 16 previews. Directed by Joseph Papp, the cast included Madeline Kahn as Chrissy, Robert Loggia as her abusive truck driver boyfriend/husband Al, Charles Durning as her father Harold, and Mary Woronov as a dancer named Susan. The creative team included Santo Loquasto (scenic design), Theoni V. Aldredge (costume design), and Martin Aronstein (lighting design).[3]

The play was nominated for the 1974 Tony Award for Best Play but lost to The River Niger by Joseph A. Walker. Also nominated for the Tony Award were Madeline Kahn (Actress in a Play) and Martin Aronstein (Lighting Design (Play or Musical)). Kahn won the Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Performance.[3]

Papp presented the play at The Public Theater in a production directed by Robert Hedley and starring Ellen Greene, Helen Hanft, Christopher Lloyd, Fred Grandy, and Tom Quinn. It opened November 20, 1974 and ran for 31 performances. Baayork Lee served as choreographer. The play was nominated for the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play.

In 1985, the play was revived at the Off-Broadway South Street Theater by the Australian Orange Tree Company. The director was Jerrold Brody, with LIz McDonald as Chrissy. Reviewing this production for The New York Times, Herbert Mitgang wrote that the play "comes encumbered with a history. But viewed for the first time on its own modest terms on a bandbox stage, it is full of dramatic fury." [4]


  1. ^ Paller, Rebecca. "PA's Villanova Does Rabe's 'Boom Boom Room', Feb. 11-22",, February 12, 1998.
  2. ^ David Rabe (1986-11-01). In the Boom Boom Room: A Play. Grove Press. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-8021-5194-0. 
  3. ^ a b In the Boom Boom Room,, accessed May 15, 2015.
  4. ^ Mitgang, Herbert. "Theater Review. Stage Revised Version of Boom Boom Room", The New York Times, December 22, 1985, p. 59 (subscription required)

External links[edit]