Atlanta Art Reviews by Susan K Asher
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‘Choir Boy’ Is a Must See on the Hertz Stage
at the Alliance Theatre

2013 October 2

 

John Stewart and Jeremy Pope; Photo: Greg Mooney

John Stewart and Jeremy Pope; Photo: Greg Mooney

“Choir Boy,” now playing on the Hertz Stage at the Alliance Theatre, is a knockout original story with an outstanding script and cast.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who sees genius in the playwright, Tarell Alvin McCraney. Just last month he was awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant (prize of $625,000) for exploring new roles in drama.

In “Choir Boy,” McCraney charts new territory in telling the story of an exceptionally gifted misfit, Pharus (Jeremy Pope), who struggles to make it on his scholarship in a prestigious prep school. What I love about this script, aside from the crafty, unique and amusing lines that Pharus spouts, is that the play is so lifelike, so real. The script is superb with full-of-life and believable characters. The acting from everyone in the cast is A+ quality, and their singing is beautiful and compelling.

The play is an unveiling of the human condition, the struggle we all go through to do our best and to be accepted. While the story revolves around a gay misfit and some underprivileged kids who attend an all-black boys prep school, the play is not about the plight of minorities. It’s about the struggle each of us has been through and goes through as we claw our way through life. There’s no proselytizing here. These characters break my heart, and I love them all. For they are you and me, and everyone we’ve known at some stage in their lives.

McCraney won the 2008 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition, and premiered his play “In the Red and Brown Water” on the Hertz State that year. He later became the  RSC/Warwick International Playwright in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the 43rd member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, one of the most renowned theatre companies in the country (home to John Malkevich, Laurie Metcalf, John Mahoney and a slew of our country’s most talented performers).

Directed by Trip Cullman, “Choir Boy” runs on the Hertz Stage at the Alliance Theatre through Oct. 13.

* N icholas L. Ashe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Junior Davis
* Joshua Boone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bobby Marrow
* Caleb Eberhardt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . David Heard
* Jeremy Pope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pharus Jonathan Young
* Scott Robertson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mr. Pendleton
* John Stewart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anthony Justin “AJ” James
* C harles E. Wallace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Headmaster Marrow

*Denotes a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the U.S.

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