-Courtesy of Aversa PR & Events
photo by Wide Eyed Studios
Philadelphia Theatre Company kicks off 2022 with the Philadelphia Premiere of a TONY® Award-winning play from an Academy Award winning writer. Audiences return to PTC for soaring gospel music and a story about singing in your own key as Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy takes the stage. Directed by PTC Resident Artist Jeffrey L. Page, this electric play about a young man creating his own path at a storied prep school features a new Gospel and R&B score created by celebrated musician Crystal Monee Hall, who serves as composer and musical director. The show runs February 18 – March 13.
“I feel tremendously excited to be doing work in Philadelphia,” said Page. “Philadelphia is a city that has seen me cross over from being a child into adulthood at University of the Arts. My roots run pretty deep in Philadelphia. I left Philadelphia and continued with my work. Here I am, back to conduct a group of artists in this stunning work. It feels really exciting to be back on Broad Street. I am excited for all of Philadelphia and its many faces to come out to see this work.”
For the health and safety of patrons, cast, crew and staff, PTC will require that audience members present proof of vaccination with booster (if eligible) and wear a mask while in the venue, aligning with the safety protocols outlined by Theatre Philadelphia. PTC has paused the sale of concessions for this show to allow patrons to keep their masks on. PTC is also offering reduced-capacity seating in the entire theatre, with mezzanine seating at 20% capacity. The theatre will offer two performances at 25% capacity on February 27, at 3 pm. and March 4, at 8 pm.
For half a century, the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys has been dedicated to the education of strong, ethical black men. Honor. Legacy. Pride. Taking his place out front as the choir leader at the elite all-boys, all-Black prep school, Pharus Young is determined to make his mark by challenging expectations in a world steeped in deep-rooted traditions. But can he make his way through the hallowed halls of this institution if he sings in his own key? From the pen of Tarell Alvin McCraney, the Academy Award-winning writer of MOONLIGHT, Choir Boy electrified Broadway with its soaring gospel, spiritual, and R&B performances. Choir Boy was nominated for five 2019 TONY Awards and won two. It won for Sound Design and a Special TONY Award for the music.
“I have been aware of this play for a long time,” said Page. “Tarell is a friend. I was in LA and I have a vivid memory of sitting in the park reading the script and just crying. The way Tarell was able to find so much color and texture inside of the breath of the words in this piece, the way he was able to paint what it feels like to be not be fully, empathetically witnessed and fully regarded – to have to exist in a small space – while everyone else has room to move and to grow wings and soar. It’s just a powerful work.”
The Philadelphia premiere of this exciting new work is directed by PTC Resident Artist Page, marking his directorial debut with the company and a return to Broad Street. Page, who is a University of the Arts graduate, credits the college with helping him develop as an artist. Page directs a cast comprised of young rising stars, a Broadway veteran, and a Philadelphia favorite. DePaul University graduate and 2021 Princess Grace Award Winner Justen Ross makes his PTC and Philadelphia debut as Pharus. Recent University of the Arts grad Jeremy Cousar plays Bobby. Jamaal Fields-Green returns to the stage after playing John Laurents/Philip Hamilton in the Chicago cast of Hamilton to play AJ. Tristan André, a UNC MFA and regular at PlayMakers Repertory Company, plays Junior. Dana Orange, who recently appeared as Sebastian in The Little Mermaid at Walnut Street Theatre, plays David. Philadelphia favorite Akeem Davis, who is currently in A Streetcar Named Desire at Arden Theatre Company and last appeared at PTC in Rizzo, plays the Headmaster. Broadway veteran of Chicago and Wicked and many more, actor PJ Benjamin, plays Mr. Pendelton.
Crystal Monee Hall, a singer/songwriter, composer, and vocal arranger is the Music Director and Composer of Choir Boy. She has extensive credits on Broadway and in popular music. Philadelphian Rob Tucker is the Assistant Music Director. Christopher Ash returns to PTC after designing The Garbologists and Sweat as Scenic and Lighting Designer, creating a minimalist set that encompasses the world of the prep school. Millie Hiibel, a Costume Designer for Opera Philadelphia, returns to PTC where she designed At Home At The Zoo. Busy Philadelphia Sound Designer Daniel Ison returns to PTC after designing this season’s The Garbologists. Alison Hassman and Jamel Baker are the Stage Managers. Casting services were provided by Bass/Valle Casting.
“The textures and colors of this play are so magnetic,” said Page. “I think this play is a powerful work of art that has the ability to reach into any person’s deepest core and help them to discover things in themselves they have forgotten about.”
Choir Boy runs February 18 – March 13. Tickets are on sale now starting at $35. PTC continues its 10Tix program, supported by PNC Arts Alive, providing a select number of seats at $10 for every performance. Tickets are available at www.philatheatreco.org or by phone at 215-985-0420. All shows are performed at PTC’s home at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146.
Following Choir Boy, the season concludes with the World Premiere of Madeline Sayet’s solo show Where We Belong from April 15 to May 8, 2022. Where We Belong launches a national tour following the production at PTC.
Tickets, subscriptions and more information can be found online at www.philatheatreco.org or by phone at 215-985-0420. Connect on social with Philadelphia Theatre Company at @philatheatreco on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.