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Choir Boy
Photo by Matthew Murphy.

It should surprise no one that Tarell Alvin McCraney‘s Choir Boy is so phenomenal. After all, McCraney breathed life into Chiron, a young African American male from Florida who is forced to grow up well before his time in the 2016 Best Picture winner, Moonlight (McCraney co-wrote the film with director Barry Jenkins).

Prior to Moonlight, McCraney gave us Pharus, a sassy but endearing student at the mostly black Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys, the setting for Choir Boy.

Manhattan Theater Club first produced this work at their smaller Off-Broadway space in 2013. Now, they have rightfully moved it to their larger house–Broadway’s Samuel J. Friedman theatre where has already received two extensions and thunderous praise.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Jeremy Pope leads a first-rate cast (many of whom have earned their Broadway debuts) in a play which questions whether faith can strengthen or strangle. The answer–for most of these earnest minds–is both:

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
what a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will,
he abides with us still,
and with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey

The old Methodist hymn serves as the official school song and reoccurs throughout this 90-minute play with music. Are trust and obedience to be followed blindly? McCraney refuses to definitively answer the question, but he writes with stunning honesty and covers a bounty of bases including sexuality, faith, doubt, hypocrisy, and loyalty.  Without heavy-handedness or preaching, he proves that he is playwright and screenwriter capable of relaying the African-American experience–simultaneously making it uniquely specific and yet so universal.

Choir Boy is now running through March 10th at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater 261 W. 47th St. (between Broadway and 8th avenue).  For tickets, visit the box office or click here.

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