The Philadelphia premiere of Choir Boy runs through 3/13 with Philadelphia Theatre Company

-Brenda Hillegas
photo by Mark Garvin

The hit Broadway coming of age story, Choir Boy, by Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight), is on stage now in Philly. This is a powerful story and the Philadelphia Theatre Company at Suzanne Roberts Theatre is bringing it to life through March 13th. Don’t miss this incredible cast directed by PTC Resident Artist Jeffrey L. Page. Tickets are available here.

The story involves five young men in the choir at the Charles R. Drew Prep School. Pharus (passionately played by Justen Ross) is set on leading the group at graduation but is faced with hostility and homophobic slurs as his classmates only want to point out his sexuality. Bobby (Jeremy Cousar) is the nephew of the headmaster (Akeem Davis) and one of the main antagonists along with Junior (Tristan Andre). Dana Orange (David) is trying to keep up his grades and his faith, and Jamaal Fields-Green (AJ) is a good-hearted friend and roommate for Pharus. All of them struggle with conflict, both internally and with one another. They’re angry, stressed, and ultimately figuring out who they are and who they want to be. Each actor blew me away, not just with their stage presence (the emotions were so strong and felt so real, especially in scenes with PJ Benjamin who plays a determined new teacher for the choir), but with their amazing singing voices as well.

Though not an actual musical, Choir Boy features so many gorgeous gospel songs all performed a capella. The music will give you chills because it’s that good.

Christopher Ash’s set and lighting work so well with the plot of Choir Boy, to create an intimate story that really draws you in and makes you understand the characters. Simple blocks and steps move scenes from a choir room, to the showers, to bedrooms- never taking away from the voices and story in front of you. Lights go from dark to light, warm to cold to represent the tone of the dialogue and feelings of the characters.

Choir Boy is non-stop with no intermission. The cast will draw you in from the minute the lights go down and the story begins. Many layers are unfolded before your eyes and you’ll leave really thinking about what you just saw. Don’t miss out. Get tickets and enjoy this wonderful piece of theatre right here in Philadelphia.

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