"Moonlight" Writer Tarell Alvin McCraney Welcomes Broadway Opener For New Play "Choir Boy"
The first reviews are out for Choir Boy and it looks like the new Broadway show is doing well.
Choir Boy is the latest drama (that's also part musical) to hit Broadway. The story follows a group of young men of color as they sing in the gospel choir at the religious and prestigious Charles R. Drew Prep School.
Among the young men is Pharus, who dreams of becoming the leader of the choir. But as Pharus approaches that dream, he begins to struggle with his sexuality, his place as a leading black man, and his religion.
The play was originally funded for Off-Broadway by the Manhattan Theatre Club before having a separate performance at the Wilmington Drama League. But now, the show has reached the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway, and some critics are giving it a big thumbs up.
New York Stage Review wrote:
“Tarell Alvin McCraney's Choir Boy is a knockout tale of music, homophobia, and racism told in rousing and entertaining manner. Manhattan Theatre Club, which first presented the play in a limited run at their smallest stage in the summer of 2013, has now finally moved it to Broadway-and it's about time! Choir Boy was brave and stunning back then. With an expanded production, a strengthened script, and the return of three of the central actors, McCraney's play is even more powerful now at the Friedman.”
The Daily Beast wrote:
“Choir Boy has grown in theater size since its 2013 off-Broadway success, and some of the elements have grown beautifully in accordance, prime among them Pope's performance. The character never defines himself as gay. He doesn't deny it, and indeed there is evidence later on that he is, or is attracted to men. The shower scenes in the play not only reveal a lot of flesh, but also hidden desires (and more fear). But, he says: ‘Sick of people calling me something I ain't doing. I'm just Pharus.’”
“If this is starting to sound like an old story, you are not wrong. It's tempting to throw in the towel on the overdose of teenage angst we've seen on and off Broadway in recent years. Fortunately, this show redeems itself with magnificent a cappella vocals and spot-on performances from the uniformly strong cast, guided by Trip Cullman, who also directed the piece when it ran at MTC's second stage in 2013.”
But not everyone liked the show.
“Too frequently, information that if delivered sooner would have forestalled the plot completely is delivered hastily later, as if to sweep it under a dorm bed. In any case, Trip Cullman's tonally blurry staging for the Manhattan Theater Club does not help you understand what to make of such logical inconsistencies, though it is at least swift enough to keep you from dwelling on them. But a similar problem eats away at the credibility of most of the characters as written. Two of the choir boys, Junior (Nicholas L. Ashe of "Queen Sugar") and David (Caleb Eberhardt), get approximately one trait each. Junior is pleasantly dim; David is tortured by something you'll see coming a mile away.”
Finally, Time Out New York wrote:
“The ending has been revised since Manhattan Theatre Club first presented it Off Broadway in 2013 with much of the same cast-Pope, Ashe, and the excellent Chuck Cooper and Austin Pendleton as adults at the school-but many of the changes are not improvements; the denouement is somehow more explanatory yet less clear.”
But who wrote Choir Boy? It’s none other than Moonlight creator and Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney.
McCraney has had a great few years since Moonlight debuted. Not only did he win an Oscar for the adapted screenplay of his unpublished play, but he also took up the role of Playwriting Chair at the Yale School of Drama.
Afterwards, McCraney heard word that his play Choir Boy was to move on to Broadway officially. He then announced that his next project is to write and star in a play about the first Drag Queen to run for US President.
Things are going well for McCraney as of late, and we can’t wait to see how his future project will turn out.
Also if you’re interested in seeing Choir Boy on Broadway, you can click here to buy tickets.