Feel the music and emotions swell as the Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage welcomes Choir Boy, by Tarell Alvin McCraney until February 25, 2024.
The brilliant coming-of-age play is filled with beautifully sung gospel music, sung a cappella by the incredibly talented cast. Written by playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, the Academy-award winning screenwriter for Moonlight (2016), puts the students of Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys through a journey of rebellion and reconciliation as the try to find harmony in the midst of strife.
Senior Choir Leader Pharus Young bears the weight of 50 years of the Prep School’s strong code ethics creating morally upstanding “Drew Men” while also balancing how to be a queer man in the all-boys school. As Pharus, Andrew Broderick bears the weight of carrying the central character through almost every scene on stage and portraying him with equal parts confidence and fragility. His powerful voice sets the tone of the play from the first moment the choir boy steps onstage, and the rest of the cast maintain the stellar performances throughout. Each of the choir boys shine; Savion Roach as Pharus’ dormmate Anthony Justin “AJ” James, Anton May as angst ridden aspiring preacher David Heard, Kwaku Okyere as Bobby Marrow who constantly clashes with Pharus, and Clarence “CJ” Jura as Junior Davis, Bobby’s tell-it-like-it-is friend. The students are guided by headmaster Marrow, Bobby’s uncle, played by Stewart Adam McKensy, also bearing the weight of history. Scott Bellis plays retired professor Mr Pendleton in a small role that punctuates the script with some gasp-inducing dialogue and heavy-handed but inspired teachings sharing his own long civil-rights history.
Following a November 2022 production for Toronto’s Canadian Stage, co-producing the show with The Arts Club, this is Mike Payette‘s third-time directing Choir Boy. Even with changes in cast from the Canadian Stage, his embrace of the material brings the cast together as a cohesive family. The creative team; Composer, Arranger & Musical Director Floydd Ricketts, Musical Director Dawn Pemberton, Sound Director Kate De Lorme make the music and song equal partners to McCraney’s script. Movement Director Natasha Powell, and Associate Movement Director & Intimacy Director Lisa Goebel keep the show in a constant flow transitioning between quiet moments and bold bursting chorals.
Also moving smoothly from the halls of academia and the gospel choir hall Rachel Forbes, Set/Costume Designer and Sophie Tang, Lighting Designer ensure no interruptions to the one-act 105 minute play.
Choir Boy makes a joyful noise unto audiences at the Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until February 25, 2024, with Talkback Tuesday February 13, and VocalEye Performances February 18 & 23. Don’t miss out, tickets are available online at artsclub.com