New in 2018 Manhattan Theatre Club presents a music-filled play that follows the hopes and dreams of the young singers at the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys, an institution dedicated to the education of strong, ethical black men.
From the producers: For half a century, the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys has been dedicated to the education of strong, ethical black men. One talented student has been waiting for years to take his rightful place as the leader of the legendary gospel choir. But can he make his way through the hallowed halls of this institution if he sings in his own key?
Author Tarell Alvin McCraney’s plays include "Head of Passes," "Wig-Out" and "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue," which inspired the Academy Award-winning film "Moonlight" and won McCraney an Oscar for the screenplay. The playwright and screenwriter is a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship Grant and is currently the chair of the playwriting department at the Yale School of Drama. "Choir Boy" debuted to critical acclaim Off-Broadway in 2013 at MTC's Studio Stage II.
The cast features Jeremy Pope, Tony winner Chuck Cooper ("The Life"), and Broadway and Off-Broadway vet Austin Pendleton, who reprise their performances from the Off Broadway production. They are joined by Nicholas L. Ashe, Daniel Bellomy, Jonathan Burke, Gerald Caesar, John Clay III, Caleb Eberhardt, Marcus Gladney and J. Quinton Johnson. Drama Desk Award nominee Trip Cullman ("Lobby Hero") directs.
What's Manhattan Theatre Club? One of three not-for-profit organizations that produce a season on Broadway each year, MTC also has two smaller stages at City Center, where they produce mostly modern plays (and sometimes musicals) in a fairly conventional style. More here.
Absorbing...at regular intervals, the choir performs gorgeous musical numbers. Most are traditional Negro spirituals (though one lovestruck student sings a Patti LaBelle ballad), and they feel transcendent. The rest of "Choir Boy" is not always up to their level Many of the changes are not improvements; the denouement is somehow more explanatory yet less clear. At its best, though, the play is specific, lyrical and touching: [Author] McCraney brings a ringing, unapologetic queer black voice to Broadway, and offers valuable perspective on struggles that have too long been unsung.
AM New York
"Choir Boy" has finally arrived on Broadway in an engrossing production. Scattered throughout the play are gloriously harmonized, aggressively choreographed choral sequences. Some of the plot twists are outright bizarre, and other moments are left decidedly murky, which adds to the play's sense of mystery. In any event, "Choir Boy" (under the taut direction of Trip Cullman) makes for highly engrossing, personal and poignant theater. It is a smashing start to the new year on Broadway.