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August 16, 2022 Comments (0) Views: 251 *Seattle Theaterland, Arts & Entertainment, Arts News, News, Queer Theater, Stage

ACT’s Gay Themed “Choir Boy” Opens Their 2022/2023 Season

It’s a production we’ve wanted to see for several years now…it’s CHOIR BOY, the play with music by acclaimed Oscar winning writer Tarell Alvin McCraney about a Black Queer student in an all male prep school choir. Originally scheduled to be part of ACT- A Contemporary Theatre’s 2020 season, that production (a co-production with Denver Center for the Performing Arts) was canceled before it reached Seattle.

Fortunately, ACT was committed to bringing this work to Seattle and teamed up with frequent producing partner The 5th Avenue Theatre for the 10th time to create a brand new production of the play. The production will kick off ACT’s 2022/23 season on September 9th and run through October 23rd. Choir Boy tickets are on sale now and are available for purchase at ACTtheatre.org or by calling the ACT Box Office at (206) 292-7676.

What’s the show about?

For half a century, the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys has been dedicated to the education of strong, ethical Black men. One talented student, Pharus Young, has been waiting for years to take his rightful place as the leader of the legendary gospel choir. But can he make his way through the hallowed halls of this institution if he sings in his own key? This riveting show is an intersectional coming-of-age story and a powerful examination of personal identity against institutional traditions: here, being black and queer in a prestigious all-male prep school. From Tarell Alvin McCraney, the Academy Award®-winning writer of Moonlight, Choir Boy electrified Broadway with its soaring gospel, spiritual, and R&B performances.

And, full cast and crew have now been announced for the production:

Choir Boy will feature Nicholas Japaul Bernard (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The 5th Avenue Theatre) as Pharus, Jaron Williams (HBO’s Treme) as Bobby, Donovan Manannah (Film Short: Wannabe) as Junior, Kyle Ward (Dallas Theatre Center, Hairspray) as Anthony Justin “AJ” James, Brandon Starling (Folger Theatre, Henry IV Part 1) as David, Arlando Smith (Lyric Theatre, Dream Girls) as Headmaster Marrow, and Larry Paulson (Denver Center, Twelfth Night) as Mr. Pendleton.

The co-production, led by director Jamil Jude (Artistic Director of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre) and associate director Shermona Mitchell (The Race 2020!, Citizen), will feature scenic design by Tony Cisek (Denver Center, Sweat), costume design by Trevor Bowen (American Players Theatre, The Brothers Size), lighting design by Andrew Smith ( Book-It, Seattle Shakespeare Company, WET), sound design by Erin Bednarz (Village Theatre), music direction by Jada Cato, choreography by Juel D. Lane (When the Beat Drops), and fight direction and intimacy choreography by Kaja Dunn (Amazon Prime, “Harlem”).

ACT’s Artistic DirectorJohn Langs said,

 “Choir Boy marks our 10th co-production with The 5th Avenue Theatre and it is a joyful departure from some of the traditional musicals that have previously been the focus of our partnership. Choir Boy provides all the joy and open-hearted emotion we love about musicals. But it is very much a play. We wanted to open our season with a story of joy, courage, and hope, with a director who could take this partnership to another level. We are so happy to welcome Jamil Jude, who has a long history with this play, to take the helm. 

On a more personal note, the last few years have been challenging to say the least. It has been a comfort and a blessing for both institutions, ACT and The 5th Avenue Theatre, to support one another and continue to build our relationship through the long investment in this partnership that has lent each of us strength as we bring back this co-production model which has become a reliable favorite for audiences.”  

-John Langs

The 5th Avenue Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director Bill Berry added, “Choir Boy is a unique and powerful story that expands how we think of and create musical theater. I’m grateful for our continued partnership with ACT and that we get to collaborate on this new production made by and for the Pacific Northwest community.”

Director Jamil Jude said, “I’m excited to revisit this show, especially to present it to Seattle audiences. I’ve visited the area a few times and I’ve always been impressed with the audiences and the way they lean into stories. Choir Boy is full of ‘lean in moments’ and I’m certain audiences will enjoy what this cast and the story will deliver.”

ABOUT TARELL ALVIN McCRANEY (Playwright)

Tarell Alvin McCraney is best known for his acclaimed trilogy, THE BROTHER/SISTER PLAYS: THE BROTHERS SIZE, IN THE RED AND BROWN WATER, and MARCUS; OR THE SECRET OF SWEET. They have been performed at McCarter Theater in Princeton, The Public Theater in New York, Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, at a trio of theaters in the Bay Area: Marin Theatre Company, ACT, and Magic Theatre, as well as the Young Vic in London (Olivier Award nomination) and around the world. Other plays include THE BREACH (Southern Rep), WIG OUT! (Sundance Theatre Institute, Royal Court, and Vineyard Theatre – GLAAD Award for Outstanding Play), and AMERICAN TRADE (Royal Shakespeare Company and Hampstead Theatre). Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where he is an ensemble member, will produce the world premiere of his commissioned play, HEAD OF PASSES. Tarell was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s International Playwright in Residence in 2008-2010, where he co-edited and directed the Young People’s Shakespeare production of HAMLET which toured throughout the UK and was presented at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. He is the recipient of the prestigious Whiting Award and Steinberg Playwright Award, as well as London’s Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, the inaugural New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, and the inaugural Paula Vogel Playwriting Award. He is a graduate from the New World School of the Arts High School, the Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago, and the Yale School of Drama. He is a resident playwright at New Dramatists and a member of Teo Castellanos/D-Projects in Miami.

ABOUT JAMIL JUDE (Director) 

Jamil Jude is a highly accomplished director, playwright, and a dramaturg focusing on bringing socially relevant art to the community. Jamil is the Artistic Director at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta, Georgia, where he previously served as Associate Artistic Director. Additionally, he is the co-founder of The New Griots Festival, which is dedicated to celebrating, advocating, and advancing the careers of emerging Black artists in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area in Minnesota. Prior to joining the staff at True Colors, Jamil served as the Artistic Programming Associate at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, a Producer in Residence at Minneapolis’ Mixed Blood Theatre, a New Play Producing Fellow at Arena Stage in Washington, DC and co-founded the Colored People’s Theatre. Among his many awards, Jamil has been named the recipient of the Captain of Industry Award (21/22), Turn The Spotlight Fellowship (18/19), Andrew W. Mellon/TCG Leadership U Fellowship (2015/17), Nautilus Music Theater Management Fellowship (2014/15), NNPN Producer Residency (2011/12, 2012/13), Jerome Foundation/The Playwrights’ Center Many Voices Mentorship (2013/14), and the Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship at Arena Stage (2009/10, 2010/11). Jamil received his Bachelors of Arts from Colgate University.

WHERE:

ACT 

700 Union St, Seattle

WHEN:

September 9 – October 23, 2022

Performance times: Tuesday–Sunday 

Select Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m.

Key Dates

  • Previews: September 9-11, 13-14
  • Press Invite: September 15, 7:30 p.m.
  • Tix for Teachers – September 11, 7:00 p.m.
  • TeenACT – October 8, 2:00 p.m.
  • Post-Show Discussion – September 27, 7:30 pm

The performance runs appx. 90 minutes with no intermission.

TICKETS:

Tickets start at $39 

We are proud to offer a range of ticket prices for all our plays, including reserved (or advance purchase) Pay What You Choose tickets for each performance, making theatre affordable for everyone.

To purchase tickets, visit https://acttheatre.org 

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