* * *
Careerwise, Tarell Alvin McCraney is as hot as it gets. Not only did “Moonlight,” whose screenplay was adapted from one of his unpublished stage plays, clean up at the Oscars in 2017, but “Choir Boy,” a gay coming-of-age play that just transferredto Broadway after a highly acclaimed off-Broadway run, received rapturous reviews, has extended its limited run and is expected to be a top Tony contender. But unanimous critical enthusiasm sometimes means there’s less to a show than meets the eye, and having seen “Choir Boy” after the reviews came out, I can’t claim to be altogether surprised that it’s a paper-thin piece of work.
“Choir Boy” tells the story of Pharus (normally played by Jeremy Pope), an “effeminate” student (Mr. McCraney’s word) at an all-black, all-male prep school who is Wrestling With His Sexuality. It’s the kind of play that is its own spoiler alert: No sooner does Mr. McCraney deal the cards than you know how he’ll be playing them for the rest of the evening. We learn a half-minute after the curtain goes up that Pharus, the head of the school’s prestigious choir, is being tormented by a homophobic chorister who calls him a “sissy” and worse—much, much worse—in the middle of a public performance. From then on, everything that happens is so self-evident that further synopsis is superfluous.
It doesn’t help that Mr. McCraney’s characterizations are as lazy as his plot is familiar….
To the extent that “Choir Boy” is worth seeing, it’s mainly because of Trip Cullman’s staging—every dramatic gesture hits its target with preternatural precision—and his marvelous ensemble cast….
* * *Read the whole thing here.