For their first production back at the Bluma Appel theatre, Canadian Stage is producing Choir Boy, a play with music about five friends in the choir at an all-boys school and their struggles to find their true selves. Directed by Tarragon Theatre’s Artistic Director Mike Payette and written by “Moonlight” co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, this is a play you definitely don’t want to miss! Filled with laughter, tears, and the most goosebump-inducing harmonies, Choir Boy is a poignant and awe-inspiring piece of theatre.

            Normally I strive not to give away spoilers about the plays in my review, but I just have to talk about one thing that blew my mind in this play: the showers. Hear me out, these actors had mics on, were undressed (tastefully of course), and then there was water, real water, coming down from what I thought were merely light fixtures. My jaw would have dropped all the way to the floor if it wasn’t for my mask. I assume the water was able to be collected in the set pieces they rolled out for the shower scenes, but still, I haven’t seen anything like this before. A huge bravo to the set and costumer designer Rachel Forbes for an absolutely incredible production. The whole set was magnificent, I just had to mention this particular scene because I’m still thinking about it well after the performance.

            The cast of Choir Boy tells this story with such raw emotion and grace, which the text most certainly requires. Andrew Broderick, Clarence Jura, Kwaku Okyere, David Andrew Reid, and Savion Roach play the five young men in the choir. Broderick gives Pharus, the choir lead, the unbridled enthusiasm and spark of a young man who knows himself and what he wants. Roach plays Pharus’ roommate AJ, whose care and compassion for Pharus is such a bright light in the play. Reid, Jura, and Okyere all give stellar performances, each character is a nuanced, emotionally charged character and they are all expertly brought to life. Not to mention can these men sing! I had goosebumps from head to toe; their harmonies and the power of their voices was incredible. Their headmaster, Mr. Marrow, is played by Daren A. Herbert who brings a tenderness yet also a great deal of strength to his character. My adoration for Mr. Pendleton, played by Scott Bellis, definitely surprised me the most; starting out a bit bumbly but ending up being a powerful, positive force in the young men’s lives reminded me of some of the amazing teachers I’ve had the good fortune to have been taught by. Both Bellis and Herbert’s characters show the power of educators and their effect on the lives of their students.

            Choir Boy will make you laugh and tug at your heartstrings in equal measure; it doesn’t shy away from the difficult topics but handles them with kindness and truthfulness which makes it such a compelling work. There are only 5 performances left so get your tickets right away! You won’t want to miss this incredible piece of theatre! For more information and to get those tickets, visit: Choir Boy / Canadian Stage

David Andrew Reid, Kwaku Okyere, Andrew Broderick, Clarence ‘CJ’ Jura, and Savion Roach in ChoirBoy-photo by Dahlia Katz


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