Mariam: For my birthday, my awesome friends and colleagues took me to see the play “Choir Boy” at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal. I hadn’t heard of this play at all until they brought it up so I was intrigued and happy to have the chance to discover it. So off we went. On a cold October night, in one of my favourite parts of Montreal (Old Port) is when the magic would happen. And that it did.
A little background:
The play is set in an all-black-boy boarding school called the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys. It has been struggling with funding and the choir is seen as one (if not the) entity that may save it from dying out.
With its long history of having magnificent end-of-year shows, the choir has the potential to ignite that hope again. However, the choir boys are dealing with all sorts of conflicts and issues, including their identities as black men, their families who seem to have abandoned them, their anxiety of finishing high school, and their understanding of their sexuality.
For instance, Pharus, the lead character of the play (played by Steven Charles), has an angelic voice and dreams nothing more than to become the choirmaster of the school. But, are his schoolmates and school administrators ready to accept a gay man to take this role? Dun Dun Dun…
This is a remarkable play. The story, the set up, and the music will charm you. As a teacher myself, I found that the play perfectly illustrates the reality of teens’ challenge in a world that goes at a speed that is way faster than they can manage. The gap between their needs and what their school expects them to attain is wide.
In this play, you can clearly see how the headmaster (played by Quincy Armorer) fails to grasp the needs of his students; and how the students fail to be completely honest with him for fear of repercussions. As for the music in the play, it goes from melancholic to upbeat, matching the tone of the play’s scenes over time. For me, the best vocalist of the group is Vlad Alexis (who plays the role of Junior in the show), but all the others also have amazing voices that give distinct touches to the play. Here is a sneak peak of some of the music you can expect.
Overall I found this to be an exceptionally designed and directed play. It touches several current issues about race and sexuality; and the performance of all the seven actors is phenomenal. What I appreciated the most (other than the music, the acting, and the story) was the fluidity between the scenes and acts. Indeed, the performers moved from one scene to another in such an natural flow that the audience would only realize after the change has happened, which made the show all the more captivating.
I don’t want to spoil the whole story for you so I will stop here. But in case you are still unconvinced, I want to add that this play was written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who was the 2017 Oscar-winning writer of ‘Moonlight’. Also, the play will show on Broadway in late 2018, so instead of waiting that long, how about watching it right here in your city? It is showing until October 28th and tickets can be found here. Having said this, if you prefer to go to New York (this could be a great Christmas gift), then here is where you can get some info for that play.
Want to know what others have said about the play? Take a look:
- The Guardian called it “an exhilarating, multi-layered new play”
- The New York Post says that the play: “registers with potency, examining its themes of race, sexuality and status with a mixture of poignancy and humor”
- The Chicago Tribute stated: “the music is a force of unity in the play, and the glue between its scenes”
- The New York Times called it: ““vivid, magnetic and moving”
Henry: Everything you’ve described here makes me want to watch this play immediately.
Mariam: Well, that was the point 😉 . This show deserves your attention; go check it out 🙂 !
Where to find the Centaur:
Address: 453 St Francois Xavier St, Montreal, QC H2Y 2T1