Sept 9 – Oct 23
Barry Jenkins’ film Moonlight has thankfully and firmly found its place in the new American cinematic canon. Tarell Alvin McCraney, the film’s Oscar-winning co-writer as well as the author of its foundational play, has a remarkable career in his own right, having worked with the Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble and Royal Shakespeare Company, created the OWN show David Makes Man, and written Steven Soderbergh’s blisteringly paced sports agent film High Flying Bird. (The play The Brothers Size, the second in his Louisiana-set Brother/Sister trilogy, was staged at Seattle Rep in 2011.)
His drama Choir Boy may have premiered in London way back in 2012, but his bump in fame brought it to Broadway in 2019 courtesy of the Manhattan Theatre Club. And thank the heavens; it’s a hell of a coming-of-age story punctuated by rousing and tightly choreographed musical interludes. (This is a co-production between ACT and the musicals-focused 5th Avenue Theatre.) The play tracks the power struggles of the legendary Gospel choir at an elite African American prep school for boys. At the center of this group is Pharus Young, an exceptionally talented and defiantly flamboyant teenager who refuses to compromise himself in the face of explicit bullying as he sharply wields his power as the choir’s newest leader.
Running under two hours with no intermission, it’s a spirited and incisive examination of young Black manhood, adolescent identity, and how music defines racial legacies.