Choir Boy, a Great Study in Ensemble Acting

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Choir Boy on Broadway

Credit: Jeremy Pope and Chuck Cooper in Choir Boy. Credit: Joan Marcus

Choir Boy is a great study in ensemble acting. It’s a play with singing (no music) that addresses a number of different themes, wrapped around the glorious singing of the cast.

The general plot of Choir Boy revolves around the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys, which is dedicated to the education of strong, ethical black men. The boys are highly motivated by the opportunity to sing in a choir. One very talented young singer has been waiting to be the featured singer, but his chance to sing is interrupted because of a homophobic comment made during his one big shot to sing. How the young man is affected, and the story that unfolds provides the story line.

Themes of  boys coming out, the challenges faced by their relationships, racism, and coming of age are covered in this piece. Although all very important concepts, they sometimes seem shoe horned into the play and some of the dialogue just seems too obvious. But the main event at Choir Boy is the soaring a cappella singing by these extraordinary performers.

Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, known for his Oscar winning Moonlight, has written this play, which is on Broadway for a limited run.

Making his Broadway debut, the phenomenal star of the show, Jeremy Pope as Pharus Jonathan Young.  He originated the role off-Broadway, and truly shines as a featured performer in this Broadway production. This spring, he will co-star in Ain’t Too Proud, playing a role he also originated in their out of town run.

It’s exciting to see a star born on stage, and Jeremy is certainly one to watch.

It’s also wonderful to see veteran actor Chuck Cooper, who is seemingly constantly working, having been featured in 15 Broadway shows, spanning genres from Shakespeare to musical comedy, as well as numerous television shows, with a strong role in this piece.

Directed by Trip Cullman, Choir Boy runs through Feb 24.

On this week’s “Bagels and Broadway”, my weekly radio show dedicated to theatre and food: Ben Cameron, Broadway performer, live event and tv host, and producer of Broadway Sessions, veteran actor Nick Wyman, from Network, Jimmy Award winners, and playwright Rodrigo Nogueira.

Saturday morning 9-10 on AM970, online, Alexa, and after airing, on podcast.


  • Five-time Billboard Award-winning media personality Valerie Smaldone is a theatre, food, lifestyle and entertainment enthusiast. She is a celebrity interviewer, accomplished voice-over artist and actress. Recent appearances on episodic tv include Law and Order, Criminal Intent, The Other Two (on HBO Max), Tommy, Manifest and Blue Bloods. She is an audiobook narrator and producer. A live event emcee, moderator, and "Voice of God" at events and award ceremonies, Valerie has joined The Story Plant Entertainment Company and is currently working on a film and Broadway play. Visit her website at

1 Response

  1. January 18, 2019

    […] Greene just announced her favorite restaurants of 2018. Valerie Smalone has the scoop on the Choir Boy. There are two excellent events honoring Martin Luther King this weekend. And mark your calendars […]

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